Your Guide to Water Treatment Trends in Ventura: Chlorine vs. Chloramine
More cities and municipalities around the country are switching their standard water treatment methods — from chlorine to chloramine. Especially in areas of the west where droughts are causing cities to scramble for imported water sources, the switch to chloramine, rather than chlorine, can be common. In this piece we’ll take a look at what you need to know about:
- The differences between the chemicals
- Why chloramine is used
- Pros and cons of each
- What you should look out for in your tap water
- And the best methods for chloramine removal
Does Culligan Bottled Water Have Chlorine?
Culligan’s bottled water for business and residential does not have chlorine, as it runs through reverse osmosis filtration before reaching your cup. You can reduce the taste and smell of chlorine with simple carbon activation filters, but you will have to replace the frequently. Any typical under-sink reverse osmosis filtration system or whole home water filter eliminates chlorine as well. However, a water softener alone will not reduce or eliminate chlorine in your water.
Chlorine vs. Chloramine: What is Chloramine?
Chloramine is a chemical variant of chlorine that contains ammonia, and is generally safe to drink and use around the home in the same way traditional, chlorine-treated tap water would be.
Cities have commonly used both chlorine and chloramine chemicals to treat municipal drinking water since the early 1920s and 30s. Chlorine became widely used during World War I when ammonia shortages reduced the availability of chloramine. As a result, chlorine remains common but chloramine is seeing increasing adoption, especially in densely populated areas.
Some populations, specifically individuals on dialysis treatment and those with respiratory issues, may be sensitive to chloramines. If you, or your family members fall into either of these categories, it’s a good idea to check with your local drinking water provider to see if a switch is coming to your area. Chloramine is also harmful for fish and aquatic animals, so you’ll want to pay close attention if you’re used to supplementing your aquarium with tap water, or consider a chloramine filter.
Why Is Chloramine Added To Water?
Water utilities typically use chloramine as a secondary disinfection method to ensure germs and other pathogens are removed from the water supply. It is most often used as a replacement for traditional chlorine, which can cause build up over time. Chlorine can also have a shorter effective period when it comes to water treatment, so in certain areas where water has to travel farther, chloramines can be more effective to ensure long-term water disinfection.
Municipalities may also choose to use chloramine rather than chlorine because it can often lead to fewer complaints about taste and smell. Chloramine tends to have a less noticeable chlorine odor and taste while still protecting water safety and quality.
Chlorine vs. Chloramine: Pros and Cons
Like many water treatment methods, chlorine and chloramine both have advantages and limitations for municipal water treatment. Chloramine has two primary advantages over chlorine, however:
- It stays active in water (providing disinfection) longer than chlorine
- It usually has less of a chlorine taste and odor
Conversely, chloramines can be more corrosive than chlorine-treated water on pipes, so cities need to be diligent about the stability of the water infrastructure when introducing chloramines. And as we know, chloramine can also be a problem for dialysis patients, those with certain respiratory issues, can’t be used in aquariums, and can even impact the results and tastes of baking.
Identifying Chloramines In Water
It can be more difficult to determine if you have chloramines in your water than chlorine, simply because chlorine often comes with its distinct odor and taste. If you’re unsure if there’s chloramine in your water however, you can check with your local utility provider, either online or by calling your local office.
The best way to determine if you have water treated with chloramines at your home, is always to have it tested. You can either purchase a water test kit at your local hardware store, or contact your local Culligan Man for a complimentary water test.
Chlorine Water Filters And Removal
If you’re among those affected by the presence of chloramines in water — and even if you’re not — you may want to consider a water filter to have fresher, better quality water in your home. There are many water filters and variations of filters, so it’s important to choose one designed specifically to remove chemicals like chlorine and chloramine.
Reverse osmosis filtration systems are good starting points, since RO technology can effectively target and remove these kinds of chemical compounds.
If you’re not sure where to start, or what type of filtration system may be right to help you remove chloramines from your water, you can always check with your local Culligan Ventura. He or she can help you better understand what’s in your water, and the best ways to remove it.
Chlorine: The Superman of Disinfectants
Think of chlorine water treatment as a giant disinfectant tablet on a massive scale – because that’s effectively what it is.
Adding chlorine to a drinking water source has been popular for more than a century, and continues to be the most cost-effective, dependable method of water disinfection today.
Though this is true, many do not like the taste or smell of chlorine in their water, and furthermore, chlorine itself is a known carcinogen, proven in some forms to be even deadly. Chlorine gas is the first chemical weapon known to have been used in warfare, by the Germans in World War I.
So how can such a harmful substance prove to be so helpful, and should you be concerned with about the chlorine in your Ventura Area?
As a halogen, chlorine water treatment is highly efficient at ridding water of most pathogens – microorganisms in your water that can be harmful to your health.
After storms, your municipal water center may add more chlorine to the water supply to treat potentially larger number of microorganisms due to runoff or sewage discharges. Higher amounts of lead and copper are leached from metal pipes that contain an increased amount of chlorine. [/
Though chlorine in large doses can produce harmful health effects, the amount in your water is not typically harmful. In addition, chlorine does something other disinfecting methods do not – it provides a residual effect.
After chlorine water treatment, water still may need to travel long distances to storage tanks and distribution systems. In places where water is not used, the chances of pathogen regrowth increases. This can cause a major mess, include slime and biofilms that could contaminate all of the clean water being distributed through the system. The residual effect of chlorine helps to prevent this from happening.
Health Issues Drinking Chlorine
Current studies show that drinking water with a small amount of chlorine does not cause harmful health effects. However, some people are more sensitive than others to chlorine and other environmental differences, and there is a concern of long-term risk due to chronic exposure of trihalomethane, which is a byproduct of the disinfection.
According to a study published in BioMed Central’s open access journal Environmental Health, “drinking water disinfected by chlorine while pregnant may increase the risk of having children with heart problems, cleft palate or major brain defects.”
This has some communities looking at other options. Las Vegas has emulated many European and Canadian cities in switching over to harmless ozone instead of chlorine.
Ozone is effective over a wide pH range and is very powerful, however, there are higher operational costs and it does not have a residual effect.
According to the U.S. Council of Environmental Quality,”Cancer risk among people drinking chlorinated water is 93% higher than among those whose water does not contain chlorine.
What’s That Smell?
While chlorine is safe to drink up to 2 mg/L, it can be smelled easily at anything close to half of that. Sometimes the water can smell or taste over-chlorinated.
Many times, particularly if there is a warm front in the spring, bacteria/algae blooms near the water source makes it necessary to add more chlorine to the water to reduce the growth of microorganisms and keep the bug population low.
What Can I Do?
Point-of-use water filtration is also popular for absorbing chlorine out of the water. While activated carbon can absorb chlorine, disinfection bi-products and organics, these devices are not privy to your specific water situation and can require extensive maintenance. For example, they will NOT filter out fluoride, arsenic, bacteria or viruses.
The best idea for the long run is a reverse osmosis system, which is like having a bottled water company under your sink. The system requires maintenance; however, Culligan takes care of this for you.