The EPA's (Environmental Protection Agency) Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, for a hazard ranking under Section 112(g) of the Clean Air Act Amendments, considers chlorine to be a "high concern" pollutant based on severe acute toxicity.
"Chlorine is so dangerous" according to biologist/chemist Dr. Herbert Schwartz," that it should be banned. Putting chlorine in the water is like starting a time bomb. Cancer, heart trouble, premature senility, both mental and physical are conditions attributable to chlorine treated water supplies. It is making us grow old before our time by producing symptoms of ageing such as hardening of the arteries."
New research published this year by Dr. Michael Plewa, a professor at the University of Illinois, shows that the disinfection byproducts (DBPs) created from the use of chloramine are much more toxic than the DBPs of chlorine. These new nitrogen-containing DBPs are currently not regulated by the EPA. They are in California water supplies and he recommends that water agencies switch back to chlorine.
Chloramine is a mixture of chlorine and ammonia, which is added to the water of many cities as a substitute for free chlorine. It is often referred to in the plural, as chloramines, because it can take on a number of forms according to the pH and mineral content of the water.
At first, scientists knew only that chloramine didn't produce the same byproducts chlorine did. But over time they learned that it could produce worrisome byproducts of its own, including chemicals called nitrosamines. "Nitrosamines are the compounds that people warned you about when they told you you shouldn't be eating those nitrite-cured hot dogs," Sedlak says. "They're about a thousand times more carcinogenic than the disinfection byproducts that we'd been worried about with regular old chlorine." [read complete article]
Since chlorine makes by-products when it interacts with organic matter in the source or raw water, the EPA has ruled that those by-products must be reduced by the year 2012. Chloramine does help reduce chlorine by-products. Additionally, a "residual" or chemical in the pipe lines from the plant to our houses is needed to kill bacteria in the water on its way to our homes. Chloramine is a good chemical for that purpose because is does not dissipate and will remain in the lines to fight bacteria all the way to our homes.
However, Chloramine creates its own by-products that are more toxic than those of chlorine and are genotoxic, which means they attack our DNA. There are other methods of reducing chlorine by-products and cleaning the water as it runs through the lines without using chloramines.
For more Chloramine information, also read: (requires Adobe Reader)
Toxic By-products - In recent studies funded and conducted by the EPA, scientists have discovered many by-products of chloramines that are cytotoxic and genotoxic. These byproducts are mutagens and have the potential to cause cancer and birth defects. Some of the known by-products are Iodoacetic Acid, Hydrazine and Nitrosamines.
These by-products are created in the water purification process. See more under Studies. While the EPA has studied these by-products and determined them to be "potent" carcinogens, they are only in the beginning stages of regulating them.
Health Concerns - In addition to the long term effects of the by-products discussed above, hundreds of people in other areas of the country in chloramines service areas are reporting respiratory and skin problems related to the use of chloraminated water. When chloramine undergoes heat or pH changes, it changes to di and tri-chloramines. Tri-chloramine is a potent respiratory irritant.
People are reporting difficulty breathing during and after showering and rashes, both of which resolve when they leave their water source for a week or two and which return upon return to the water source. CDC is currently investigating the reported cases in Vermont. There are studies that indicate that chloraminated water may adversely react with certain prescription medications. See Studies for more information.
Showering may negatively affect our health more than we ever thought. Gases as a rule are less soluble in hot water, and when heated, the free chlorine in water escapes into the air we breathe. When taking a shower chlorine gasses are steadily increased in the air to an extent that we breathe the harmful fumes. Regularly taking hot showers with chlorinated water could irritate the lungs and pose a health risk.
Some individuals may choose to reduce exposure to chlorine or chloramine. There are two effective methods of removing chloramine from your shower or bathing water:
For a complete list of water filtration products that remove chloramines, click here.
NOTE: Chlorine in water may be present in two forms, free and combined. Free chlorine does the hard work of killing bacteria and oxidizing contaminants. When you add chlorine to water, you are actually adding free chlorine. When the free chlorine combines with contaminants, it becomes combined chlorine or chloramines. In water, this form of chlorine has very little sanitizing ability, and no oxidizing ability. Total chlorine is just the sum of both combined chlorine and free chlorine.
CuZn's KDF55 filter removes about 98% and KDF85 removes about 80% of both free and combined chlorine as a new filter and diminishes in capability as the filter is used, as do all water filters. There is only one accurate water test that is capable of measuring both free and combined chlorine -- DPD#1 Test. Unfortunately, because of the nature of the beast, false readings are common.
Regardless of which method you choose for removing chloramine and chlorine, most people experience:
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