Chloramine is a compound of chlorine and ammonia and is fast becoming a familiar substance in our water. It is being used in place of chlorine to disinfect city water in over 22% of United States municipal water treatment facilities (and the number is growing).
Here is what you must know about chloramine and the problems associated with it:
• Mixing chlorine and ammonia results is a dangerous chemical called monochloramine. It is a toxic nerve gas and is very irritating to the skin and mucous membranes. This is what is being used in municipal water systems to disinfect the water we use to drink, bathe, shower, and cook.
• Chloramine does not dissipate from water like chlorine does. If you let chlorinated water sit for 30-60 minutes, it will dissipate from the standing water (though it will still leave behind toxic byproducts and VOCs). When you shower, chlorine and chloramine both release into the air and you inhale it, causing irritation the lungs, throat, and eyes. People who suffer from asthma, upper respiratory issues, and cystic fibrosis cannot afford to be inhaling these chemicals.
• Chloramine has been linked to several health concerns, including gastrointestinal irritation and skin disorders (i.e. eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis). Those who shower and bathe in filtered water exhibit relief from these issues.
• Chloramine produces by-products known as nitrosodimethylamines (NDMA’s) that may be more carcinogenic than their predecessors (nitrates/nitrites).
• Chloramine cannot be removed by typical water treatment techniques – all sink attachment gadgets, refrigerator filters, and pitcher filters are useless for filtering out chloramines. Chloramine requires special filtration media.
• Chloramine can cause genetic damage in mammals, including human beings (keep reading below for more information).
In addition, a study conducted by the University of Illinois in 2004 demonstrates that a by-product of the chloramination of drinking water known as iodoacids (eye-o-doe-acids) may be the most toxic ever found in drinking water. The concern is the genetic damage they can cause in mammals (including humans) that drink chloraminated water, but also the fact that these dangerous chemicals are being released back into the environment where fish, wildlife, and the food chain can be harmed.
Like chlorine, chloramine is designed to kill pathogenic organisms by penetrating their cell walls and membranes and disrupting their metabolism. Chloramines are, however, much slower to react (i.e. not as effective), and unlike chlorine they do not evaporate from water, nor are they removed by typical water treatment techniques. The only resolution is 1. move somewhere else and get on a well or 2. get an effective filter made specifically for removing chloramine from your drinking and showering water, such as the Environmental Water Systems Chloramine Removal Series.