Chlorine Dioxide Defined

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Water Education News: Chlorine – Chlorine Dioxide – Chloramines – What’s the Differences?

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Chloramines facts: Shocking but true.

Research in this issue

EPA data base for chloramines in drinking water
Basic information about chloramines and drinking water disinfection
Water systems, disinfection byproducts, and the use of monochloramine
Chloramines-related research
Common health questions related to monochloramine
More information about your drinking water
More information about chloramines and disinfection byproducts
Chloramine data by Wikipedia
Uses and chemical reactions
Reduction of organic chloramines
Uses in water treatment
Health risks
Removing chloramine from water
Situations where monochloramine is removed from water supplies
Organic chloramines

In this last of our three part water education series: “Chlorine – Chlorine Dioxide – Chloramine – What are the differences?“, the chemical treatment chloramine is looked at. This article is not an opinion of STW™. It is shocking scientific fact. We recommend the video and first toggle be reviewed before going further. At the end of the article we have provided a complete education and news article directory of everything Save the Water™ has published over the past year.”Water education resource and news article directory with 5,450 links“. Water educators are welcome to utilize this information under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License with proper credit given.

EPA data base for chloramines in drinking water:

Chloramines are disinfectants used to treat drinking water. Chloramines are most commonly formed when ammonia is added to chlorine to treat drinking water. The typical purpose of chloramines is to provide longer-lasting water treatment as the water moves through pipes to consumers. This type of disinfection is known as secondary disinfection. Chloramines have been used by water utilities for almost 90 years, and their use is closely regulated. More than one in five Americans uses drinking water treated with chloramines. Water that contains chloramines and meets EPA regulatory standards is safe to use for drinking, cooking, bathing and other household uses.

Many utilities use chlorine as their secondary disinfectant; however, in recent years, some of them changed their secondary disinfectant to chloramines to meet disinfection byproduct regulations. In order to address questions that have been raised by consumers about this switch, EPA scientists and experts have answered 29 of the most frequently asked questions about chloramines. We have also worked with a risk communication expert to help us organize complex information and make it easier for us to express current knowledge.

The question and answer format takes a step-wise approach to communicate complex information to a wide variety of consumers who may have different educational backgrounds or interest in this topic. Each question is answered by three key responses, which are written at an approximately sixth grade reading level. In turn, each key response is supported by three more detailed pieces of information, which are written at an approximately 12th grade reading level. More complex information is provided in the Additional Supporting Information section, which includes links to documents and resources that provide additional technical information.

EPA continues to research drinking water disinfectants and expects to periodically evaluate and possibly update the questions and answers about chloramines when new information becomes available.

You may wish to view each question separately by clicking on the highlighted questions below or may wish to view them as one document.


Basic information about chloramines and drinking water disinfection


Water systems, disinfection byproducts, and the use of monochloramine


Chloramines-related research


Common health questions related to monochloramine

More information about your drinking water


More information about your drinking water

EPA strongly encourages people to learn more about their drinking water. Your water bill or telephone book’s government listings are a good starting point for local information. Water systems have several different choices when it comes to disinfection. To find out if chloramines are used in your community, contact your local water system.

EPA requires all community water systems to prepare an annual consumer confidence report (CCR) (sometimes called a water quality report) for their customers. The CCR lists the level of contaminants that have been detected over a certain period of time and shows how these levels compare with EPA’s drinking water regulations. Some water suppliers have posted their annual reports on EPA’s Website. If you have not received this annual report, and it is not posted on EPA’s Website, you may request it by calling your water system.

More information about chloramines and disinfection byproducts

More information about health effects and drinking water disinfection from EPA is available in the following locations:


2007 Version of Chloramines Q&A’s

EPA has updated the previous version of the Chloramines Q&A’s in order to better communicate complex issues to a wider audience. EPA expects to continue to review and possiblyupdate the Q&A’s on a periodic basis or as new information becomes available

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Chloramine data by Wikipedia

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. See Wikipedia terms of use. Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Chloramines are derivatives of ammonia by substitution of one, two or three hydrogen atoms with chlorine atoms.[1] Monochloramine is an inorganic compound with the formula NH2Cl. It is an unstable colourless liquid at its melting point of -66° temperature, but it is usually handled as a dilute aqueous solution where it is used as a disinfectant. The term chloramine also refers to a family of organic compounds with the formulas R2NCl and RNCl2 (R is an organic group). Dichloramine, NHCl2, and nitrogen trichloride, NCl3, are also well known.

Uses and chemical reactions

NH2Cl is a key intermediate in the traditional synthesis of hydrazine.

Monochloramine oxidizes sulfhydryls and disulfides in the same manner as HClO,[4] but only possesses 0.4% of the biocidal effect of HClO.[5]

Reduction of organic chloramines

Chloramines are often an unwanted side product of oxidation reactions of organic compounds (with amino groups) with bleach. The reduction of chloramines back into amines can be carried out through a mild hydride donor. Sodium borohydride will reduce chloramines, but this reaction is greatly sped up with acid catalysis.

Uses in water treatment

See also: Chloramination

NH2Cl is commonly used in low concentrations as a secondary disinfectant in municipal water distribution systems as an alternative to chlorination. This application is increasing. Chlorine (sometimes referred to as free chlorine) is being displaced by chloramine, which is much more stable and does not dissipate from the water before it reaches consumers. NH2Cl also has a very much lower, however still present, tendency than free chlorine to convert organic materials into chlorocarbons such as chloroform and carbon tetrachloride. Such compounds have been identified as carcinogens and in 1979 the United States Environmental Protection Agency‎ began regulating their levels in U.S. drinking water. Furthermore, water treated with chloramine lacks the distinct chlorine odour of the gaseous treatment and so has improved taste. In swimming pools, chloramines are formed by the reaction of free chlorine with organic substances. Chloramines, compared to free chlorine, are both less effective as a sanitizer and more irritating to the eyes of swimmers. When swimmers complain of eye irritation from “too much chlorine” in a pool, the problem is typically a high level of chloramines.[citation needed] Pool test kits designed for use by homeowners are sensitive to both free chlorine and chloramines, which can be misleading.[citation needed]

Chloramine-treated water has a greenish cast; the source of the colour is uncertain. Pure water by contrast normally is blue.[citation needed] This greenish color may be observed by filling a white polyethylene bucket with chloraminated tap water and comparing it to chloramine-free water such as distilled water or a sample from a swimming pool.

Health risks

Adding chloramine to the water supply can increase exposure to lead in drinking water, especially in areas with older housing; this exposure can result in increased lead levels in the bloodstream and can pose a significant health risk.[6]

There is also evidence that exposure to chloramine can contribute to respiratory problems, including asthma, among swimmers.[7] Respiratory problems related to chloramine exposure are common and prevalent among competitive swimmers.[8]

Chloramine use, together with chlorine dioxide, ozone, and ultraviolet, have been described as public health concerns and an example of the outcome of poorly implemented environmental regulation.[citation needed] These methods of disinfection decrease the formation of regulated byproducts such as alkyl chloroforms, which has led to their widespread adoption. However, they can increase the formation of a number of less regulated cytotoxic and genotoxic byproducts, some of which pose greater health risks than the regulated chemicals,[9] causing such diseases as cancer, kidney disease, thyroid damage,[10] and birth defects.[11]

Removing chloramine from water

Chloramine can be removed from tap water by treatment with superchlorination (10 ppm or more of free chlorine, such as from a dose of sodium hypochlorite bleach or pool sanitizer) while maintaining a pH of about 7 (such as from a dose of hydrochloric acid). Hypochlorous acid from the free chlorine strips the ammonia from the chloramine, and the ammonia outgasses from the surface of the bulk water. This process takes about 24 hours for normal tap water concentrations of a few ppm of chloramine. Residual free chlorine can then be removed by exposure to bright sunlight for about 4 hours.

Boiling the water for 20 minutes will remove chloramine and ammonia. Additionally, many foods and drinks rapidly neutralize chloramine without the necessity of boiling (e.g., tea, coffee, chicken stock, orange juice, etc.). SFPUC determined that 1000 mg of Vitamin C (tablets purchased in a grocery store, crushed and mixed in with the bath water) remove chloramine completely in a medium size bathtub without significantly depressing pH. Shower attachments containing Vitamin C can be purchased on the Internet, as well as effervescent Vitamin C bath tablets. [12]

Situations where monochloramine is removed from water supplies

Many animals are sensitive to chloramine and it must be removed from water given to many animals in zoos. Aquarium owners remove the chloramine from their tap water because it is toxic to fish. Aging the water for a few days removes chlorine but not the more stable chloramine, which can be neutralised using products available at pet stores.

Chloramine must also be removed from the water prior to use in kidney dialysis machines, as it would come in contact with the bloodstream across a permeable membrane. However, since chloramine is neutralized by the digestive process, kidney dialysis patients can still safely drink chloramine-treated water.

Home brewers use reducing agents such as sodium metabisulfite or potassium metabisulfite to remove chloramine from brewing fermented beverages. Chloramine, like chlorine, can be removed by boiling. However the boiling time required to remove the chloramine is much longer than that of chlorine.[13] Residual sodium can cause off flavors in beer (See Brewing, Michael Lewis) so potassium metabisulfite is preferred.

Chloramine can be removed from bathwater and birthing tubs by adding 1000 mg of vitamin C (as the ascorbic acid form) to a medium size bathtub (about 40 gallons of water).[14]

Organic chloramines

A variety of organic chloramines are known and proven useful in organic synthesis. One example is N-chloromorpholine ClN(CH2CH2)2O, N-chloropiperidine, and N-chloroquinuclidinium chloride.[15]

Safety

US EPA regulations limit chloramine concentration to 4 parts per million (ppm). A typical target level in US public water supplies is 3 ppm. In order to meet EPA regulated limits on halogenated disinfection by-products, many utilities are switching from chlorination to chloramination. While chloramination produces fewer total halogenated disinfection by-products, it produces greater concentrations of unregulated iodinated disinfection by-products and N-nitrosodimethylamine.[16][17] Both iodinated disinfection by-products and N-nitrosodimethylamine have been shown to be genotoxic.[17]
Research references