Chloramine (chlorine + ammonia) is a drinking water disinfectant that can be a potential health hazard if used improperly.
Here are five reasons why chloramine has no place in our drinking water:
1. Chloramine is an ineffective disinfectant. According to Hach, a global company in water quality testing, chloramine is 25 times less effective than chlorine in disinfection. This is important because, if dosing and mixing are not precise, utilities effectively expose everyone in the system to raw water. In fact, chloramine is so ineffective that utilities that use them are required to at least annually go back to just chlorine to clean out the bacteria that has become accustomed to ammonia.
2. Ammonia is a food source for bacteria, so when the chloramine breaks down, the ammonia actually feeds the bacteria it is supposed to stop. Further, a byproduct of this is nitrification. Nitrogen is released into the water that causes more growth of bacteria. Nitrates can reduce hemoglobin a newborn baby’s blood resulting in blue baby syndrome.
3. In a study conducted by the University of Illinois Champaign–Urbana shows that genetic damage occurs when exposed to chloramines. This is consistent with the fact any chloramine water must have chloramine removed before use in fish tanks and kidney dialysis. Further, chloramine is five times more damaging to respiratory illnesses in hospitals where routine use of chloramine was used to disinfect.
4. Chloramine is very corrosive, particularly with lead and copper. In Washington DC, chloramines were the cause of lead leeching into the water and causing learning disabilities in children under five years old. They settled a related lawsuit for $250 million.
5. The purpose of chloramine is only to trick the system so the utility can pass current regulatory standards. It is NOT to disinfect, it is to reduce the amount of disinfection byproducts by averting the chlorine from reacting with organics (the cause of disinfection by products) and thereby manage the result. More bluntly, chloramine is, as described by one person, “neutered chlorine.” Worse is that it generates NDMA, or nitrosamines, a disinfection byproduct 10,000 time more carcinogenic than anything it purports to displace.
While the health impact of Chloramine is dependent on several water quality variables, the bottom line is that chloramine use produces MORE disinfection byproducts than free chlorine. A simple scientific fact... especially as a "secondary" disinfectant. Not only is the water subject to formation of the free chlorine byproducts... with the addition of ammonia, you form the chloramine family of byproducts.