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Chloramine in Water: How to Remove Chloramines from Water
Chloramines are a class of disinfectants that contain chlorine and ammonia. They have been used for many years to treat drinking water, swimming pools, cooling towers and other industrial waters. Chloraminated water has also become popular as an alternative to ozone-based systems because it does not produce harmful byproducts such as trihalomethanes. However, the use of chloramines has become controversial due to concerns about possible adverse health effects from long-term exposure. Also, it can cause corrosion problems if they come into contact with metals or iron pipes. This article will discuss what are chloramines, potential hazards associated with them, and how you can remove them from your water.
What is chloramine?
Chloramines contain chlorine and ammonia, and are used to disinfect water. Public water systems use chloramines – specifically monochloramine – to make drinking water safe. Chloramination is the process of adding free chlorine (i.e., chlorine gas, sodium hypochlorite or calcium hypochlorite) and ammonia to drinking water. Chloramines are sometimes used as an alternative to chlorination because of their long-lasting disinfection properties. They’re weaker than chlorine, however their disinfectant characteristics last much longer than chlorine. Chloramines are very stable, and won’t lose their potency. The typical concentration of monochloramine in treated drinking water is between 1 and 3 ppm as Cl
Are chloramines dangerous?
Yes, they can be. Chloramines can cause and/or make worse respiratory problems, skin problems, digestive and gastric problems, kidney and blood problems, and immune system problems.*
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says chloramine levels up to 4 parts per million (ppm) is “safe” in drinking water. Treated drinking water usually has a concentration of monochloramine between 1 and 3 ppm as chlorine. For perspective, a healthy swimming pool typically contains 1 – 4 ppm chlorine. That’s why even at low levels in the water, we recommended using a filter for chloramines. I personally do not want to drink or use water that’s as chemically as pool water. Keep in mind that only specific water filters address chlorine – see below.
*Chloramine doesn’t kill pathogens in the water as well as chlorine so people with weakened immune systems should properly filter and purify their water.
Why should I remove chloramines from my water?
There are many reasons to remove chloramines from the water you drink and use. Reasons to remove them from your water include:
- Taste and odor. One of the biggest complaints about chloramines is the unpleasant taste and odor they cause. Chloramines have a metallic or chemical aftertaste (although less than chlorine), and an especially harsh smell in water. In fact, that well-known “pool water smell” – that’s actually chloramines, not chlorine.
- Respiratory problems. Breathing chloraminated vapor from showers, baths, hot tubs, dishwashers, and other household appliances can cause respiratory problems.
- Skin and eye irritation. Chloramines can irritate your skin, and leave you with bloodshot eyes after a shower. They can also cause dry, flaky skin or painful breakouts. If you have pre-existing skin conditions like acne or eczema, chloraminated water can really aggravate these conditions.
- Digestive and gastric problems. Chloramine damages digestive mucosa and can cause stomach discomfort.
- Deteriorates rubber. O-rings, gaskets, and seals break down over time when exposed to chloramines. This can cause inconvenient and costly problems for dishwashers, washing machines, faucets, toilets, and more.
- Corrodes metal. Chloramines can sometimes transform water’s chemical properties, and when combined with low pH and alkalinity, it can corrode metal pipes, fixtures, and other items it comes in contact with. When pipes corrode, it can introduce lead into the water supply if corrosion control isn’t in place. Even a change from chlorine to chloramine as a treatment chemical can cause a spike in lead levels if there’s not enough corrosion control. This unfortunately happened in Washington, DC in 2001, and lead contamination (exacerbated by chloramination) is an ongoing concern.
- Toxic to fish and plants. Unsurprisingly, fish and plants are sensitive to chemicals like chloramines. Fish have delicate, extremely sensitive organs; chloramines ruin their organ systems. Plants need a balance of nutrients; chloramines taint the soil and remove the nutrients. Removing chloramines and other chemicals is extremely important for happy, healthy fish and plants.
- Not suitable for medical or laboratory setting. Using water that has chemicals and contaminants is not recommended or safe for labs or medical purposes. For example, if there are chloramines in the water used in dialysis treatment, it will enter the bloodstream and alter hemoglobin in the blood (hemolytic anemia).
- Changes flavor profile for brewing. If you’re brewing coffee, tea, beer, or anything else, chloramines will affect the flavor profile of any additives to the water. Therefore, it makes sense to remove chloramines for taste and product quality.
How to get rid of chloramines in water?
The best way to reduce and remove chloramines in water is with a catalytic activated carbon filter.
What is catalytic carbon?
Catalytic carbon – also called surface modified carbon – is made by structurally enhancing activated carbon. By changing the electronic structure of activated carbon, it creates spaces for chemical reactions to occur thus increasing its adsorption properties and supercharging it to target other contaminants too.
Catalytic carbon induces chemisorption. When chloramines meet catalytic carbon, a special reaction occurs in which chloramines bond chemically to the surface of the activated carbon. Catalytic carbon is superior to standard activated carbon, offering chloramine removal abilities and much higher capacities to reduce/remove contaminants. (Read more about the differences between activated carbon and catalytic carbon).
What are the best water filters for chloramines?
A whole house water filter is the best type of system to remove chloramines. It eliminates chloramines for all the water you drink and use in your home so that every fixture has clean, healthy water (not just the drinking water). There are also undersink water systems for chloramine reduction that will take care of just your drinking water.
Best Whole House Water Filters for Chloramines
PS-2000PB – 0.02 Micron Ultrafiltration Membrane with 0.5 Micron Catalytic Carbon Filter for Chloramines, Lead, Chemicals, Heavy Metals
Whether you get your water from a public source or a well, the PS-2000PB is the ultimate protector. This whole house water filtration system protects your household from chloramines, bacteria, viruses, parasites, lead, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), chlorine, cysts, particulates, and more. It’s plumbed into where water enters your home and filters all the water used in your house. It has a flow rate of up to 8 gallons per minute which is adequate to supply the water requirements of most homes.
Innovative technology which lets you flush (clean) the ultrafiltration (UF) membrane whenever it gets full of contaminants. Don’t keep buying expensive replacement filters or membranes that you can’t flush! Replace the UF membrane once every 3 – 5 years, and replace the catalytic carbon filter once per year.
BG-20PB – 0.5 Micron Catalytic Carbon Filter for Chloramines, Lead, Chemicals, Heavy Metals
Catalytic activated carbon filter reduces/removes chloramines, lead, heavy metals, chlorine, VOCs, cysts, sand, rust and sediment. It filters both particulate and soluble lead (most “lead filters” only remove particulate lead). High adsorptive capacity and efficiency – 96%+ reduction of lead. 95%+ reduction of VOC; 90%+ reduction in chlorine at 2 ppm; 83%+ reduction in chloramine at 3ppm. Long filter life due to high contaminants holding capacity. Flow rate up to 7 gallons per minute (dependent on incoming water flow).
Best Drinking Water Filter for Chloramines (Under Sink Filters)
Pharmaceutical grade filtration (0.2 micron) reduces/removes chloramines, chlorine, lead, volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), asbestos, total trihalomethanes (TTHMs), methane tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), pharmaceuticals, and more. It keeps the vital minerals found naturally in water. Extra long 2 year filter life (10,000 gallons). This water filter system delivers exceptional filtration from any faucet for home, office, and other applications.
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