WATER PURIFICATION WITH CHLORAMINES FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

MWWS purchases treated water from The City of Mandan.

Starting April 10, 2006, the City of Mandan will change from using chlorine to chloramines to

purify the water it produces. Chloramines are a combination of chlorine and ammonia used to

kill potentially harmful bacteria in the water. The change to chloramines for disinfection

purposes will result in a higher quality of drinking water.

Below are some things you might wish to know about the change.

 

ARE CHLORAMINES NEW?

No. Many cities in the U.S. and Canada have used chloramines for decades

 

WHY IS MANDAN MAKING THE CHANGE TO CHLORAMINES?

The reason is to deliver water to our customers with the lowest possible levels of trihalomethanes (THMs).

 

WHAT ARE TRIHALOMETHANES (THMs)?

THMs are chemical compounds that are formed when chlorine mixes with naturally occurring
organics in water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted tests which
determined that chloroform (one of the THMs) is carcinogenic when consumed by laboratory
animals in large quantities over a prolonged period of time, and is a suspected carcinogen for
people. EPA set a standard of 80 parts per billion as the maximum level of THMs in drinking
water.


ARE CHLORAMINES SAFE?

Yes. Chloramines have been used safely in the United States and Canada for many years. EPA
accepts chloramines as a disinfectant and as a way to avoid THM formations. Were it not for
some kind of disinfectant in drinking water, disease-causing organisms such as typhoid and
cholera could be carried in your drinking water. Chloraminated water is safe for bathing, drinking,
cooking and all uses we have for water every day. However, there are two groups of people
who need to take special care with chloraminated water: kidney dialysis patients and fish owners.

 

WHY DO KIDNEY DIALYSIS PATIENTS HAVE TO TAKE SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS?

In the dialysis process, water comes in contact with the blood across a permeable membrane.

Chloramines in that water would be toxic, just as chlorine is toxic, and must be removed from

water used in kidney dialysis machines. There are two ways to do that – either by adding

ascorbic acid or using granular activated-carbon (GAC) treatment. Medical centers that perform

dialysis are responsible for purifying the water that enters the dialysis machines.

 

WHAT SHOULD PEOPLE WITH HOME DIALYSIS MACHINES DO TO REMOVE CHLORAMINES?

You should first check with your physician who will probably recommend the appropriate type

of water treatment. Often, home dialysis service companies can make the needed modifications,

but you should check with your physician to be certain.

 

IF CHLORAMINES ARE TOXIC, WON’T THEY HARM PEOPLE AND PETS?

Chloramines are harmful when they go directly into the bloodstream, as happens in kidney

dialysis. Fish also take chloramines directly into their bloodstreams. That’s why chloramines

must be removed from water that goes into kidney dialysis machines or is used in fish tanks and

ponds.

 

IS IT SAFE TO DRINK WATER CONTAINING CHLORAMINES?

Yes. Everyone can drink water that’s Chloraminated because the digestive process neutralizes

the chloramines before they reach the bloodstream. Even kidney dialysis patients can drink,

cook and bathe in chloraminated water. It’s only when water interacts directly with the

bloodstream-as in dialysis or in a fish’s gill structure-that chloramines must be removed (See

question HOW DO CHLORAMINES AFFECT FISH?).

 

WHAT WILL WATER TASTE LIKE WITH CHLORAMINES?

If you notice any change at all, you may find the water has less of chlorine odor or taste.

 

HOW DO CHLORAMINES AFFECT FISH?

Chloramines are toxic to fish and must be removed from water, just as chlorine is toxic and must

be removed. You may not have had to remove chlorine from your aquarium water, however,

because it disappears rapidly on it own. This is not the case with chloramines and steps should be

taken to remove chloramines. Most pet stores have sold dechlorinating agents for years and,

generally, have recommended using them. The chemicals used to remove chlorine should work

just as well for chloramines.