Chloramine: A Combination of Chlorine and Ammonia and its Potential Health Hazards

All city-run water treatment plants use chlorine to treat water to make it safe to drink. Some cities, including Austin, Texas, the one we are based in, use something called chloramine, a combination of chlorine and ammonia. Chloramine is pretty much as gross as it sounds. Although water filtration plants most typically use the safest form known as monochloramine (NH2C1), chloramine exists in two other forms called dichloramine (NHCl2), and trichloramine (NCl3). Experts state that monochloramine may inadvertently convert into one of the more dangerous forms, depending on pH value, temperature, turbulence, and the chlorine to ammonia ratio.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires water utilities to control levels of regulated disinfection byproducts, and allows each water utility chooses the most effective approach for disinfecting water as long as it meets EPA standards. Most treatment facilities use chlorine or chloramine as the primary disinfectant or sometimes a combination of both. The agency regulates the safe use of chloramines in drinking water as follows:

  • The EPA requires water utilities to meet strict health standards when using chloramines to treat water.
  • EPA chloramines regulations are based on the average concentration of chloramines found in a water system over time.
  • The EPA regulates the levels of certain chemicals formed when chloramines react with natural organic matter in water.

The EPA’s regulatory standard for chloramines provides a wide margin of safety to offset any uncertainties in risk assessments.

The formation of disinfection byproducts can vary daily with the amount of natural organic matter in the water, temperature, rainfall, distance from the treatment plant, and other factors. The EPA believes that monochloramine is a practical and effective secondary disinfectant, safe for human consumption in water, as long as it meets their standards. The EPA’s regulatory standard for chloramines provides a wide margin of safety to offset any uncertainties in risk assessments. However, the EPA has acknowledged that chloramines may have potential health risks. Here are a few facts from the EPA regarding chloramine and possible health risks:

  • Most of the research on the cancer risk of monochloramine comes from animal studies using mice and rats.
  • Several studies have shown lower rates of bladder cancer in communities served by systems that use monochloramine as a secondary disinfectant versus those that use chlorine.
  • Water treated with monochloramine may contain higher concentrations of unregulated disinfection byproducts than water treated with chlorine, but the cancer risk is unknown.

A collaborative research project with the University of Texas School of Engineering, helped Aquasana become an industry leader in developing water filtration products that effectively reduce chloramine contamination. Among these products are the groundbreaking chloramine-reducing filter pitcher system, the Powered Water Filtration System, the AQ-5300 under-the counter system, and the EQ-400 whole-home system.

PWFS Electric Water FilterPowered Water Filtration System

This countertop, electric water filter features the industry’s only NSF certification to remove harmful chloramines and reduces 10 times more contaminants than the most popular drip pitcher filter.

AQ-5300 Under the sink filterAQ-5300

Aquasana’s under-counter sink filter, the AQ-5300 features a cost-effective, filtration system that is NSF-certified to remove 97% of chloramines and 99% of chlorine.

EQ-400 Whole House FilterEQ-400

This  chloramines whole house system features upgraded catalytic carbon specially formulated to tackle chloramines for an unprecedented 4 years or 400,000 gallons.

Any of these products are excellent choices for discerning consumers who want to reduce both chloramine and chlorine from their water.


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