Chloramines are created when ammonia is added to chlorinated water. Chloramines 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.
Greenville Water started using chloramines in the 1930’s.
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.
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.
Greenville Water uses chloramines primarily for 3 reasons:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rubber linings of water lines may disintegrate over a period of time.
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. The cost will depend on the type of system purchased (whole house vs. one attached to a water spigot). Another option for those not wanting to bathe in chloraminated water is to add some ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) to your bath water.
The following websites have excellent information regarding chloramines:
San Francisco Public Utilities Commission