WATER QUALITYHarmful Effects of Chloramine in Your Drinking Water

March 8, 2022

Chloramine is a frequent choice for water disinfection. It gives long-term protection against waterborne microorganisms. It has benefits which make it better, and more frequently used now, than chlorine. More U.S. cities and water facilities are changing to chloramine to sanitize water. There can still be issues and problems with chloramine. Recent science has shown there can be harmful effects of chloramine in your drinking water, on health, and on infrastructure and plumbing. We’ll help you understand chloramine better and know more about its flaws.

What is Chloramine?

Chloramine is a chemical anti-bacterial created by a reaction with ammonia and free chlorine. The reaction generally produces numerous inorganic chloramines: trichloramine, dichloramine, monochloramine, and organochloramines. In water treatment, chloramine refers to monochloramine, a five-part chlorine solution, and one part ammonia. It is generally used as a “second anti-bacterial” to inhibit microbial development in water. It is very difficult to filter out of water. Should you limit your exposure to it?

Why the Switch over from Chlorine to Chloramine?

As you might well know, water treatment centers get water from natural sources, such as rivers and lakes, and groundwater resources, like underground aquifers. The water is treated, then sent to the public. Water from the natural sources often has bacteria, protozoa, fungi and other microorganisms. Municipal water suppliers have to first disinfect the water to safeguard the general public from disease and make it safe to consume.

Chlorine has been used because its efficient and inexpensive. Chlorine oxidizes water. The chlorine develops a weak acid (called hypochlorous acid) which has a neutral electric charge. This acid penetrates the cell wall surfaces of bacteria and gets rid of the bacteria. Despite the fact that chlorine is still the main disinfectant used by most U.S. public water supply facilities, it has two main problems.

  1. It can escape from water as it travels via water mains, removing the chlorine residual. Without residual chlorine, water can become contaminated again.
  2. It can react with normally occurring organic substances, creating disinfection byproducts related to liver and kidney problems, cancer and even death.

Switching to Chloramine

Chloramine is a frequent choice for water disinfection
Chloramine is being used more often in municipal and public water supplies.

Chloramine is being used more often in municipal and public water supplies. It eliminates microorganisms and non-disease-causing microbes in water without having the two most common problems from chlorine.

Chloramine is a weaker chemical than chlorine. It is less volatile. It stays in water for a longer span. This helps keep microbial contamination out longer, for miles of pipes, mains and plumbing water can travel in. This further makes sure all parts of a water system stay disinfected.

Generally, chloramine in drinking water is an overall benefit to public health since it decreases the rate of infectious diseases. Chloramine fights cholera, hepatitis and typhoid. These diseases spread in untreated water.

Possible Effects of Chloramine in Your Water

While keeping people from consuming bacteria, viruses, and also various harmful microbes in drinking water, chloramines are known to be toxic irritants and potentially be corrosive. Here are a few known negatives of using chloramine to sanitize water.

  • Irritating to Skin, Eyes

Among the most substantial issues with chloramine in water is it can irritate eyes, sinuses, respiratory systems and skin conditions. Showering or bathing in chloramine-treated water can cause serious rash breakouts in people with delicate skin. If you have an existing skin condition, like acne or dermatitis, it can significantly exacerbate these issues. Chloramines are recognized to cause skin outbreaks, dry skin, scaliness and flakiness. Some individuals can have painful, bloodshot eyes from showers. It can aggravate mucus membranes, nasal flow and other sinus issues. This can happen by breathing in the chloramine in an enclosed area, like a shower stall. This can trigger severe discomfort in a person’s sinuses.

  • Bad Taste and Odor

Though not as harsh as chlorine, chloramine brings a chemical aftertaste that can leave the water with an undesirable metallic or rough chemical taste. It may additionally give a distinct “swimming pool” smell to water.

  • Might be a Danger to Kidney Dialysis Patients

Chloramine might hurt kidney dialysis individuals by contaminating the dialysis fluid as well as entering the person’s blood. As soon as in the bloodstream, chloramines can alter hemoglobin, resulting in a possibly dangerous condition called “hemolytic anemia.”

  • Poisonous to Marine Animals and Plants

If you own an aquarium, be mindful not to refill the tank with water including chloramine. Marine animals, fish, amphibians, reptiles and marine invertebrates, have delicate internal body organs and structures and are very sensitive to chloramines. Exposure to chloramine via gills or skin into the blood stream can kill these pets. It can likewise be damaging to human beings and animals that consume the contaminated fish or other animals. Hydroponics farmers or hobbyists must additionally take caution with chloramine in water as direct exposure to the chemical can change a plant’s fragile nutrient balance and kill them.

  • Corrodes Parts and Components

An ideal instance of chloramine’s indirect impact is when a water system replaces its chlorine-based water treatment system with a chloramine-based system to follow DBP guidelines. When this takes place, the municipality must raise the corrosion inhibitor it uses in its infrastructure to prevent chloramine from changing water chemistry as well as causing lead and copper to leach into the water from old service lines and solders.

For a real-life example, Washington, D.C. didn’t think of this when the district switched to a chloramine-based system in the early 2000s. As a result, the resulting contamination affected water lead levels throughout the district. It caused a five-year lead contamination crisis that gave more than 42,000 children ages two and younger to elevated lead levels in drinking water.


South End Water Filtration specializes in HALO Water Filter products including the HALO H2 Zero Whole Home Water Filter. We’re just a click away to help and answer any questions. South End Plumbing and South End Water Filtration will give you a free estimate. Call us at 704-486-1988 or contact us online to schedule a visit.