Chlorine vs. Chloramine In Your Water
The sun is scorching, the temperature rises, and water is calling! You are preparing to hit the tap and quench your thirst. As your parched throat begs for relief, you imagine a nice, refreshing, cool glass full of … chloramines and chlorine? But, wait… What are those, and does it worry you they might be in your water? This is 2022, and you hope that your municipal water sanitation crew has quality water figured out by now. Chlorine and chloramine might sound similar, but they are two different water treatment processes. Here we will discuss chlorine vs. chloramine in your water!
Tap water undergoes quite the journey before shooting out of your kitchen sink. It comes from several sources, such as rivers, wells, and lakes. Before entering your home, chemicals treat it to remove toxins. This process is vital to ensure your drinking water is free of waterborne diseases like cholera and typhoid.
Chloramines are the resulting love child of chlorine and ammonia. They are the more effective of the two water treatment processes. Many cities currently use chloramines instead of chlorine in water treatment. Just how prevalent is this love child in our water systems? According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in 2016, one in five Americans drank chloramine-treated water.
We know you recognize a good glass of water when you pour one. You have standards for how your water tastes and what it contains. Anything short of the cool refreshing beverage you’re imagining, and you might spit right back out! That’s why we are bringing you information on chlorine vs. chloramine in your water and why it matters.
What is Chlorine, And How Does It Impact Tap Water?
Chlorine is the original disinfectant method used in US municipalities to treat water. Chlorine in water systems dates back to Jersey City in 1908. Chlorine is a dissolved gas put into tap water to kill microorganisms in the city’s water supply. It is often chosen because of its effectiveness and low cost.
What are the drawbacks to chlorine? Let’s talk about a few major ones.
First, while it isn’t toxic for everyone, the concentration of chlorine needed to treat public water successfully is high enough to kill your fish. And while large amounts of chlorine are not a death sentence for humans, in large amounts, it will irritate the skin and eyes and strip your hair of its natural oils.
Second, it doesn’t love company. If there is a high percentage of dirt or germs in the original water source, chlorine has difficulty fighting them off. The result is naturally-occurring organic compounds. When this happens, disinfection by-products (DBPs) form. DBPs can cause kidney and liver problems. In addition, some are carcinogenic after a lifetime of exposure.
Third, while chlorine kills the icky bacteria, it also kills the good bacteria your body needs to function successfully. Calcium, Magnesium, and Potassium fall victim to chlorine which could have long-term effects on your overall health and wellness.
Finally, it has commitment issues. Chlorine will disinfect the water but won’t stick around for long once exposed to air. After 24 hours, chlorine will dissipate from the water. This gives bacteria and other chemicals a chance for a sequel!
What is Chloramine, And How Does It Impact Tap Water?
A solution containing 5–parts chlorine and 1-part ammonia, chloramine is born when you mix ammonia with chlorine. The ammonia works to keep the chlorine gas in the water for a longer time. As mentioned before, chlorine dissipates quickly once exposed to air, so chloramine solves this problem. In addition, it is less volatile, meaning it is more successful at warding off toxins found in water throughout the water’s journey to the tap. In addition, chloramine is less reactive with naturally-occurring organic matter. Therefore, it produces fewer DBPs.
While it does have some advantages over chlorine, it still falls short in a number of areas. When a city switches over to a chloramine-based system to comply with DBP regulations, pipe corrosion inhibitors also go up. This is because chloramine-treated water is more corrosive than chlorine-treated water.
Why is corrosion in the pipes a problem? Just look at Washington, DC. The city did not properly increase the level of pipe corrosion inhibitor when switching to a chloramine-based disinfection system in early 2000. The result was a 5-year lead contamination crisis resulting in more than 42,000 children under the age of 2 exposed to high lead levels, putting them at significant health risk.
Even if pipe corrosion is not a problem, chloramine still causes issues. For example, water should be chloramine free when used for baking, dialysis, aquariums, and even craft brewing.
Finally, chloramine’s staying power is a double-edged sword. While chloramines remain in your water for longer than chlorine (yay for suppressing bacteria growth), they also take days, if not weeks, to wear off. If you appreciate the chemical removing toxins from your water but don’t appreciate it enough to want to drink it, you’re out of luck!
What if I Don’t Want to Drink Chlorine and Chloramine In My Tap Water?
We know that sometimes the downsides to chlorine and chloramines are enough to make you want to remove them from your tap water entirely. If you want assurance that the water you are drinking is truly pure and clean, there are different methods to remove chlorine and chloramine from your drinking water.
Most people often opt for bottled water first. It can be a good option, but you should know that the EPA regulates tap water and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) takes care of bottled water. The FDA and EPA have different ideas on what is “safe,” and most argue that the EPA’s standards are more stringent. Often you can find chlorine or chloramines in bottled water. In addition, bottled water isn’t the best choice for the environment. Tragically, more than 60 million plastic bottles get produced, transported, and disposed of in the U.S.A daily.
An excellent alternative is a whole home water filtration system. It is important to do your research before choosing your filtration system because each system offers protection from different bacteria and toxins. First, you may want to see what exactly is in your water. A free water analysis will provide you with this information.
A high-quality reverse osmosis system will provide long-lasting filtration. Our reverse osmosis system removes up to 99.8% of the chemicals in your water. In addition, a reverse osmosis system has multiple filters and carbon-containing pre-filters that work in conjunction to remove chemicals. Crystal Clear would love to bring clean, refreshing, hydrating, quality water to your taps! Now you have a better understanding of chlorine vs. chloramine in your water. Bottoms up!