Chloramines are an effective disinfection agent to clean public water supplies to a basic standard. But, exposure to chloramines can cause side effects, including a chemical taste, skin irritation, and sore eyes. It’s easier to remove chlorine than chloramines, and a standard granular activated carbon (GAC) filter will not be effective. The only solution is a reverse osmosis (RO) filter or a catalytic carbon filtration system. In this article, we will take a closer look at chloramines and how they can be removed from your water supply.

What are Chloramines?

Chlorine has been used as a disinfection agent to kill harmful microorganisms for over a century. But, there has been a push to improve the efficacy of dealing with microorganisms that are becoming resistant to chlorine based water treatment. Chloramines are chlorine mixed with ammonia to make the disinfection properties last longer as the water travels through the network of pipes to your home. Chloramines are a weaker disinfection agent than chlorine, but the longer disinfection times boost the efficacy significantly. But, this creates another problem, the chloramine levels remain high when they are used in the home, and this causes some harmful side effects. There are even studies that have made a tenuous link between chlorine and chloramine byproducts and certain types of cancer.

Consuming Chloramines

At this stage, it’s natural to consider the safety of chloramines which can be consumed in drinking water and foods cooked in treated water. The EPA doesn’t consider chloramines to be a health threat, and at 4mg/L (4 ppm), they have not been linked to long-term health problems at this time. Municipal water treatment plants must comply with strict guidelines on the levels of chloramines that are added to water. So, it’s unlikely that a person would be consuming more than 4mg/L. There is an exception, hemodialysis patients are vulnerable to hemolytic anemia after exposure to chloramines. People that are on dialysis should avoid using water that has been disinfected with chloramines entirely.

Removing Chloramines

There are two proven methods to remove chloramines from water: catalytic carbon filtration and reverse osmosis. Catalytic carbon filtration is preferred because it can be installed as a whole-house system easily. This is important because exposure to chloramines when showering can cause the aforementioned health problems. But, this method can be expensive, and at this time, it may be beyond the reach of many people.

Reverse osmosis (RO) filtration can be installed as a point-of-use system with a dedicated faucet, and the usual location is the kitchen sink. This process takes time, so the filtered water is stored in a sealed tank for convenience. This is a great option for people with a lower budget that want to improve their water quality for drinking and cooking. As an added bonus, RO filtered water creates the clearest and slowest melting ice cubes that you will ever see for cold beverages.

If you want to remove chlorine and chloramines from your water supply, contact your local water treatment specialist today.

By EcoWater Systems.
EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is the largest water treatment company in the state and is a member of Water Quality Association.