Most people know chlorine is in our water supply, but few are aware of chloramines, a nasty bi-product of the municipal disinfection process. If you live in a “chloriminated” area (an area with chloramines) here’s what you need to know about the effects on your health and home. In addition, how you can address them with the proper filtration system.
As mentioned, chloramines are a chemical bi-product of the municipal sanitization process that uses the combination of chlorine and ammonia to disinfect the water supply. (TIP: San Diego County has chloramines). The primary disinfectant, chlorine is used to kill or inactivate pathogens at the water treatment plant. The secondary disinfectant, ammonia, is used to create a residual treatment to control microbial growth through the distribution channel. While this is a cost-effective way for the municipalities to safeguard from pathogens and bacteria, there are also plenty of risks to the public associated with this method. This most definitely triggers cause for concern, and the following are the reasons why.
3 Reasons that chloramines are unsafe
- When chloramines mix with the organic matter in water they create additional toxic bi-products called trihalomethanes (THMs). THMs are environmental pollutants, and many are considered carcinogenic. While there are studies lacking in long-term exposure to humans, studies in lab animals are showing adverse health effects such as cancer. ( Click here for a related article by the EPA).
- Chloramines do not dissipate easily and are 7-10 times harder to remove from water than just chlorine. They cannot be removed by boiling, distillation, reverse osmosis membrane alone, or leaving water sitting out.
- Chloramines also are hard on copper and fixtures wearing down pipes through nitrification. This significantly reduces the lifespan and creates opportunities for leaks, breakage, and leaching.
How do I know if I have chloramines in my water?
If you want to find out if your water supply has chloramines you can call your local municipality or find their annual consumer water quality report. This report can be found on their website once a year. (Look for chloramines and THM’s). If you’re in San Diego County, click here to find all the municipal water reports. (All of San Diego County uses chloramines).
How do I safeguard my family?
Purchasing the right in-home water filtration product is the most cost-effective way to safeguard yourself from chloramines and other undesirable components of city tap water. When researching a water system for water with chloramines, here are a few tips to help guide you:
- The best protection would be with a whole home system (meaning all faucets including baths and showers are filtered). Showers being that since chloramines are also ingested through inhaling steam during showers as well as absorbed in skin/pores during showers and baths.
- If using a carbon-based whole-house filter (which is the most popular), you will want the primary filtration media in your unit to be granulated catalytic carbon. Not standard granulated coconut carbon. Check out this chloramine removal system here. If you do not have catalytic carbon as the primary (meaning the tank should be 80% or more filled with this media) then you are not getting the correct filtration for chloramines.
- If a whole house system isn’t an option, then you can protect your drinking water with a 3-5 stage, under-the-sink reverse osmosis system or countertop reverse osmosis. (See reverse osmosis options here).
If you want more information or have questions we are always here to help!
Have a happy and healthy day!