Chloramines

What are chloramines?

Chloramines are created when ammonia is added to chlorinated water. Chloramines actually refers to a group of three chemicals; monochloramine, dichloramine, and trichloramine. The water industry relies on monochloramine as a disinfectant and monochloramine can be created by careful attention to the chlorine to ammonia ratio and the pH of the water.

When did Greenville Water begin using Chloramines?

Greenville Water started using chloramines in the 1930’s.

Do other water systems use chloramines?

Yes, there are many large and small water utilities that use chloramines to disinfect their water. Some examples are Charleston Water System, Mount Pleasant Water System, Denver, San Francisco, Tampa Bay and Vermont.

Why do we need to add a disinfectant to drinking water?

As a safeguard to prevent waterborne illnesses, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) requires public water systems to maintain a chlorine residual throughout the water system.

Why does Greenville Water use Chloramines?

Greenville Water uses chloramines primarily for 3 reasons:

  • Chloramines are a more stable disinfectant than free chlorine. This allows Greenville Water to maintain its disinfectant residual at approximately 2.0 mg/L throughout its distribution system.
  • Chloramines reduce the formation of trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs) which are currently regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In 2006, Greenville Water was granted a “40/30” Exemption by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) for its low THM and HAA concentrations.
  • Chloramines produce water that is more aesthetically pleasing. In 2011, Greenville Water won the “Best of the Best” award at the AWWA Annual Conference for the best tasting water in North America.
Do Chloramines cause Asthma?

There is no evidence that chloraminated drinking water causes or exacerbates asthma

symptoms. Monochloramine does not enter the air easily and therefore would be difficult to

inhale.

My skin has become dry and I have developed a rash since using chloraminated water. Why?

When people reduce the frequency or change the location that they bathe, or when they bathe
using bottled water, they are not just changing the quality of the water they are using. They are
also changing many other things that may have been responsible for symptoms that they may
believe were related only to the water. For example, the temperature of the water may be
different, the types of cleaning products that are used in each location may differ, the types of
soaps and lotions that the person is using may have changed, the length of time spent in the
shower or bath may have been reduced, or other environmental allergens that were present in

  • one location may not be present in the other.

Greenville Water is considered very soft with total hardness averaging less than 1 grain/gallon. Reducing the amount of soap used in the shower or while washing clothes could help reduce skin irritations.

Can persons with kidney ailments, diabetes, or on low sodium diets drink chloraminated water?

Yes. People with medical problems can use chloraminated water to drink, bathe, and clean with. It can be used for any other purpose except for dialysis treatment.

Why are chloramines removed prior to dialysis?

Both chlorine and chloramine can harm kidney dialysis patients during the dialysis process if they are not removed from the water prior to dialysis treatment. This is because between 90 and 190 liters of water is used in the kidney dialysis treatment process, and this water comes into direct contact (via a semi-permeable membrane) with the patient’s bloodstream. To protect patients during the dialysis process, chloramine, like chlorine, is removed from tap water at treatment facilities before dialysis treatment takes place.
Greenville Water notifies all dialysis centers when it switches from chloramines to free chlorine in March.

What effect does chloramine have on rubber?

Rubber linings of water lines may disintegrate over a period of time.

How can I remove chloramines from my water?

Chloramine cannot be removed from water by boiling, distilling or reverse osmosis. The best method, and recommended by the US EPA, is an activated carbon block system. Depending on the type of system purchased, whole house vs. one attached to a water spigot, will determine the cost. Another option for those not wanting to bathe in chloraminated water is to add some ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) to your bath water.

Where can I find out more information regarding chloramines?

The following websites have excellent information regarding chloramines:

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)