If you’ve noticed that your tap water has less of a chlorine taste recently, it’s not because the LADWP has stopped using chlorine to disinfect and eliminate organic and biological contaminants from the city’s drinking water. On the contrary, with little fanfare, the utility is has nearly completed a total switchover from basic chlorine to less familiar chloramine compounds for secondary disinfection (ultraviolet light is currently the LADWP’s primary disinfectant). According to their 2014 Drinking Water Quality Report, chloramines remain in the water for a longer time and are harder to customers to detect by taste. But the great majority of residents have never heard of chloramines and their effects on water, as well as on humans. So what is chloramine, exactly, and how does it affect you?
According to a US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) factsheet, chloramines are compounds “…commonly formed when ammonia is added to chlorine to treat drinking water.” So what does this mean? It means that the LADWP didn’t really switch from chlorine to chloramine, instead it means they now begun adding ammonia to your water in addition to the chlorine already present. Not much of a switch when what they were switching from is still there.
The EPA also states that 1 in 5 Americans are exposed to chloramines due to their use in drinking water. The reason for this is because chloramines are able to stay intact in water for a longer time than chlorine can on its own. For one, this means that organic and biological contaminants are exposed to chloramine for a longer time, ensuring a higher level of disinfection. But what happens when those same chloramines reach your glass, pot, or showerhead?
A factsheet published by Citizens Concerned About Chloramine (CCAC), a Bay-Area non-profit against the use of chloramines in public water supplies, cites a New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services report that warned that chloramine fumes can cause an individual to become congested and cause respiratory problems. They also cite a Belgian university study that noted an increase in asthma due to exposure to chloramine in indoor swimming pool areas. Additionally, they point out that chloramines can intensify existing skin conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis, and that persons with kidney and liver disease are at increased risk of ammonia toxicity due to consumption of chloramines in drinking water. The thing to remember about chloramine is that utilities like LADWP justify using chloramines because they remain in the water for a longer period of time, meaning the likelihood of long-term exposure is higher than with chlorine alone. So if you understand that chloramines are effective at disinfecting drinking water, but don’t want to drink chloramine-treated water, how do you filter the offending substance out?
It’s certainly possible to greatly reduce the presence or chloramines in your drinking water, but it’s a bit harder than it is to reduce the presence of chlorine. With chlorine, your typical solution would be to use an activated carbon filter. Drinking water filtration via activated carbon has a proven history of successfully reducing the presence of chlorine in drinking water. However, carbon is not effective at reducing ammonia, so a two-stage solution is needed. To best remove chloramines, you need a carbon filter to reduce chlorine, and then a reverse-osmosis (RO) purifier to remove the remaining ammonia in the water. With the one-two punch of carbon filtration and RO purification, you can reduce your exposure to chloramines significantly, ensuring the best water you and your loved ones can have.
In short, don’t feel helpless when you out about a new contaminant appearing in your water, especially when it seems like a new one appears in the news every other week or so. With the right investment in proven water treatment equipment, you can rest easy at night knowing that your water is as pure and safe as it can possibly be.
To schedule a free consultation with a Rayne Water Systems water treatment professional on how easy it is to improve the quality of your water, and for a free, basic, no obligation water test, visit www.raynedrops.com or call toll-free: 800.594.3300
- “L.A.’s 2014 Drinking Water Quality Report” PDF file available at https://www.ladwp.com/ladwp/faces/ladwp/aboutus/a-water/a-w-wqreport