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The Dangers of Chloramines in Drinking Water

Water disinfection has been a standard procedure since the start of modernization. We even make sure our drinking water is safe by installing a water filter.

You don’t want your drinking water to be the cause of your demise because of the pathogens present in it. Disinfection of your drinking water helps you to avoid dire circumstances due to the pathogens.

Treatment of your water with chlorination is one technique to disinfect it. Chlorine kills a wide range of microbiological pathogens in water, including those that cause typhoid fever, dysentery, cholera, and Legionnaires’ disease.

In the United States and other affluent countries, chlorine is often credited with nearly eliminating outbreaks of waterborne disease.

You are most certainly aware of the chlorine used to disinfect your municipal water while relieving your thirst with a glass of tap water, taking a morning shower, or swimming in a pool.

Although its characteristic odor may be offensive to some, it indicates that your water supply has been appropriately treated to prevent harmful or fatal germs. Chlorine was used for the process of chlorination at first, but over time it shifted to the use of chloramine.

Chloramine doesn’t have the problems associated with chlorine as it stays longer in water, is less volatile, and is less reactive with organic matter that produces disinfectant byproducts that can be carcinogenic.

Why do public water suppliers treat my drinking water with disinfectants?

To protect the public from disease-causing germs, tap water must be disinfected. To destroy bacteria, viruses, and other organisms that can cause serious illness and death, drinking water is disinfected.

Disinfection of drinking water has improved public health by reducing the transmission of infectious diseases such as typhoid, hepatitis, and cholera, which are spread by untreated water. Chlorine and chloramines are two common disinfectants.

Chloramine

Chloramine is a disinfectant that is used to purify water. It’s made by combining chlorine and ammonia. Although it is a weaker disinfectant than chlorine, it is more stable, allowing it to disinfect water throughout the distribution system of a water utility.

Chloramine is used as a secondary disinfectant in some water systems to maintain a disinfection residual throughout the distribution system, ensuring that drinking water is safe as it travels from the treatment facility to the customer. Water systems have been using chloramine for about 90 years, and its use is strictly regulated.

What are the benefits of Chloramine use?

Chloramine is less reactive than chlorine, it can help prevent cancer-causing disinfection byproducts including trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids. Because a chloramine residue is more stable and lasts longer than free chlorine, it protects distribution systems from bacterial regrowth.

Chloramine, like chlorine, is useful in preventing biofilm, a bacterial-caused coating in pipes. Controlling biofilm also helps to lower coliform bacteria levels and pipe damage caused by biofilm.

Many systems will encounter fewer taste and odor complaints when employing chloramine since it does not react with organic molecules. Chloramine technology is simple to set up and maintain. It is also one of the more affordable disinfection alternatives to chlorine.

What are the drawbacks of chloramine use?

Concentrations of chloramine are more difficult to regulate than those of chlorine. Unwanted chemical reactions, such as enhanced pipe corrosion or nitrification in the distribution system, might occur if the treatment process is not carefully controlled and monitored.

Corrosion can cause lead and copper to leach from pipes and solder. The loss of disinfectant residual can be caused by nitrification. These possible downsides to chloramine use can be avoided by properly operating and managing the treatment system and disinfectant levels.

Furthermore, chloramine degrades natural rubber items such as toilet tank “flapper valves” more quickly than chlorine. If rubber deterioration becomes an issue, other synthetic alternatives are available in plumbing and hardware stores.

Effects of Chloramine in human health

When I shower or bathe, does chloramine induce a rash on my skin or irritate my lungs?

Chloramine levels in drinking water that meet the EPA guideline pose little to no harm and should be deemed safe. There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that significant chloramine or ammonia exposures occur as a result of respiration.

Because of the low levels of ammonia in chlorinated water, it does not irritate the skin, and the amounts of ammonia in meals far outnumber those in chlorinated water.

Chloramine levels in drinking water that exceed the Maximum Residual Disinfectant Levels might induce eye and nose irritation, stomach discomfort, and anemia.

High levels can only occur if the water filtration and distribution systems aren’t functioning properly. Use a sophisticated water filter for your safe drinking tap water.

Does chloramine raise the amount of lead in my drinking water?

Optimal treatment for lead control is required regardless of whether a water system utilizes chlorine or chloramine for disinfection. Water systems have encountered high lead levels shortly after switching to chloramine in some cases.

These issues were mainly caused by unusual conditions, but they can be avoided if the conversion process is carefully monitored and managed. Using water filters in your home avoids the danger of lead contamination.

What effects does chloramine have on dialysis patients?

Before a water system switches to chloramine, dialysis facilities and hospitals are told. Chloramine residues, like chlorine, must be removed from water used in dialysis devices.

Technicians check for total chlorine residuals (due to chloramine) as part of their normal test procedures to ensure the residual is zero. Depending on the chlorine removal technology currently in use, some machines may require adjustments.

A change in the disinfectant used to treat the water should not affect or need any changes in dialysis machine operation. Users of home dialysis should seek advice from their doctor or the maker of their dialysis system.

Final Thoughts on Chloramine

Chloramine is a widely used disinfectant to treat drinking water. Chloramine is more stable as it is less volatile, stays in the water longer, and is less reactive to organic matter as compared to chlorine.

Your drinking water is safe if the chloramine levels are relatively low and do not pose health risks. High levels of chloramine in your drinking water should be avoided as much as possible as it might induce eye and nose irritation, stomach discomfort, and anemia.

Other concerns with chloramine are pipe corrosion and its connection with lead levels.

Chlorination with chloramine is one way to have safe drinking water. We can also have our safety measures such as using a water filter to avoid the drawbacks of chloramine use.

 

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