• Does the Berkey Remove Chlorine and Chloramines Your Drinking Water?

    Does the Berkey remove Chlorine and Chloramines from drinking water? The short answer is Yes! The Berkey will remove chlorine to undetectable levels and chloramines over 99.9% from drinking water.

    But, what are the health effects of these chemicals used to treat drinking water?

    Many water utilities have stopped using chlorine to treat drinking water supplied to consumers, opting to use chloramine as an alternative method of disinfection instead. While chloramine is much less effective as a disinfectant, it does offer some benefits over chlorine treatment. The reason for this switch is two-fold: firstly it is cheaper and easier for utilities to use; and secondly it is more stable than chlorine, meaning that it lasts for longer and is more effective at preventing bacterial regrowth in water networks. But is this a wise decision? Let's have a closer look at some of the health effects associated with the different chemical treatment options.

    Treating Drinking Water with Chlorine

    Drinking water supplied to consumers across the country has historically been disinfected with chlorine during the treatment process. Because chlorine is extremely effective at killing bacteria and viruses, this method of treatment has virtually eradicated waterborne diseases such as cholera, dysentery and typhoid fever.

    Does a berkey remove chlorine and chloramines from drinking water?  Yes it does! Does a berkey remove chlorine and chloramines from drinking water? Yes it does!

    However, disinfecting drinking water with chlorine poses some health risks of its own, as not only does it kill harmful pathogens, but it can also react with chemicals commonly found in water and form new chemical compounds, or disinfection byproducts, such as trihalomethanes, which are associated with adverse health risks, including an increased risk of cancer of the bladder, colon and rectum, and possibly also breast cancer.

    And this risk is by no means small. The US Council of Environmental Quality estimates that people who consume chlorinated water have a 93% greater risk of getting cancer than people whose drinking water is not chlorinated.

    Treating Water with Chloramine

    By comparison, chloramine, which is an mixture of chlorine and ammonia, tends to dissipate and evaporate less readily than chlorine, making it a more stable option for treating water systems. However, studies suggest that chloramine increases the rate of deterioration of water infrastructure, degrading pipework fittings and valves. When used in conjunction with lead water pipes or fittings it can cause lead and other heavy metals to leach into the water passing through the pipes.

    Besides promoting the deterioration of pipes that can lead to heavy metals leaching into drinking water, like chlorine, chloramines may form harmful byproducts when they come into contact with naturally occurring organic matter, iodide or bromide during the disinfection process. But the byproducts that form may be even higher than those produced when disinfecting water with chlorine.

    Studies have shown that these byproducts are extremely toxic to cellular tissue in mammals, including humans, and can affect the genetic structure of cells, resulting in mutations or cancer. Other studies have shown that exposure to some byproducts, for example iodoacetic acid, can cause abnormal development in embryonic mice.

    According to a report by Erin Brockovich, "other byproducts resulting from the use of chloramine include the extremely toxic human carcinogens hydrazine and N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). Both of these chemicals are ingredients used in rocket fuel, and "are a result of the chloramine's combination of ammonia and chlorine, a potentially deadly cocktail," says Brockavich.

    According to Brockovich, when it comes to killing harmful pathogens such as rotaviruses, e-coli bacteria, and polio, chloramine is 200 times less effective compared to chlorine. Which begs the question, do the potential benefits warrant the risk?

    While these chemicals may offer a cheap water treatment solution, the health consequences associated with their use may be costly.

    As a consumer, you might not have much say over which chemical/s your utility uses to treat your drinking water or what byproducts you may be exposed to as a result of their choice. But you do have a choice when it comes to removing these unwanted nasties.

    A good quality home water filter, such as the Berkey range of water filters, can remove chlorine and chloramines, as well as the chemical byproducts they produce. They can also remove any pathogens that may sneak through as a result of inefficient treatment, as well as toxic metals such as lead that may leach from water pipes due to corrosion associated with treatment chemicals. Knowing that your drinking water is free from all these potentially harmful toxins will give you peace of mind that your family is drinking the purest water money can buy.

  • BPA + Chlorine = Bad News, According to New Study

    Bisphenol A, or BPA as it is more commonly known, has been a cause for concern for some years now. BPA is a known endocrine disruptor that upsets the body's hormonal systems and has been linked to chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and ovarian dysfunction. It is found in many everyday items including the paper till rolls used for cash register receipts, the lining of food and beverage cans, as well as in plastic beverage bottles, and until recently was also used in the manufacture of baby bottles and sippy cups before the FDA banned this in 2012. It is also found in more than 92% of American adults and children over the age of six.

    Because of the ubiquitous nature of BPA in the environment, researchers began to wonder what impact this chemical might be having on our drinking water, which may become contaminated at the supply source by discarded plastic debris or if the chemical leaches into the water as it flows through PVC water pipes when it is pumped through the water distribution network.


    The majority of public water suppliers treat water with chlorine to kill harmful bacteria and make it safe to drink. However, the chlorine also attaches to BPA, which effectively becomes 'chlorinated', leading scientists to ponder what effect this chlorinated BPA could have on the human body.

    After conducting numerous cell-culture experiments, researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston found that these modified forms of BPA produced new, but no less disturbing, effects. “We found that when you modify the BPA it works just as dramatically but in different ways on the same systems,” said professor Cheryl Watson, senior author of the study that was recently published online in Endocrine Disruptors.

    Watson, together with student René Viñas, analyzed chlorinated BPA as well as BPA that had experienced sulfonation and glucuronodation – both processes that the human body utilizes to render compounds easier to excrete. According to the study, “in all three cases the modified forms of BPA worked through membrane estrogen receptors to deactivate key signaling enzymes known as ERK and JNK kinases.”

    “These kinases are major control centers, gathering all the cell signals, making decisions and then expediting them,” explains Watson. “If you change the dynamic by inactivating kinases, you can mess up cell signaling.”

    Results were observed at very low concentrations of BPA, which is a common phenomenon with membrane receptors, but varied erratically as concentrations were adjusted.

    While it may be difficult to completely prevent exposure to BPA, you can certainly takes steps to reduce your risk of exposure. As BPA is more likely to leach into water or other beverages when it stands for long periods of time, it is best to avoid bottled water or other beverages sold in plastic bottles that are likely to have been stored on the shelf for some time. While some water filters are not able to remove BPA, they can remove chlorine to prevent potential chemical reactions from occurring should water come in contact with BPA in plastic drinking bottles or sport water bottles after it leaves your tap.

    Journal Reference:

    René Viñas, Randall M. Goldblum, Cheryl S. Watson. Rapid estrogenic signaling activities of the modified (chlorinated, sulfonated, and glucuronidated) endocrine disruptor bisphenol A. Endocrine Disruptors, 2013

  • Chlorine in Our Drinking Water - Does A Berkey Remove Chlorine?

    Does A Berkey Remove Chlorine? Quick and Short Answer: Yes, the Berkey water filter will remove chlorine from your water to undetectable levels!

    Protecting the majority of the US drinking water from disease causing bacteria, viruses, and other microbes, are disinfectants such as chlorine, chloramines, ozone, and chlorine dioxide.  This practice of disinfection has been in place since the early 1900's, and Chlorine is a chemical that has played a significant role.  Over the past few decades, numerous studies have been conducted by members of the scientific, regulatory, and public communities evaluating the short and long term safety of chlorination. While some have shown no negative effects on human health, there are many that have.

    History of Chlorine

    Chlorine has made it's mark on history by virtually eliminating water borne diseases and allowing populations around the world to flourish.  It easily applied at the water source and small amounts have the ability to be effective throughout a municipal distribution network, from the water treatment plant all the way to the faucet tap.  The discovery of these benefits coupled with it's low cost resulted in chlorine being chosen as the preferred chemical for both domestic and industrial purposes for most of the 20th century.

    chlorine - Does A Berkey Remove Chlorine? Does A Berkey Remove Chlorine?

    Concerns Over Chlorine in Drinking Water?

    Concerns over chlorine stem from the way in which the chemical reacts with organic plant matter that is naturally present in water, in addition to it's reactions with saliva and stomach content when ingested.  These chemical reactions result in a group of chemicals known as disinfection byproducts(DBPs).  Some of my readers may be familiar with one of the most notorious byproducts called Trihalomethanes (THMs) which consist of four chemicals: chloroform, bromodichloromethane, dribromochloromethane, and bromoform.  Scientific evidence classifies THM's as known carcinogens with two types of health effects being shown by studies; organ cancer and reproductive/developmental health effects.  The following paragraphs highlight some of these findings.

    World Health Organization Study

    Released in 1996, and republished again in 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a study of Chlorine and it's water reacting equilibrium forms of hypechlorous acid and hypoclhorites and their effect on mice and rats. In these studies, short terms chemical exposure seemed to indicate no negative effects on the mice.  However, 2 year long term rat exposure to sodium hypochlorite in drinking water resulted in a "dose related depression in body weight gain in all groups, depressed liver, brain, and heart weights in males given a .05% dose, decreased salivary gland weights in both female groups, and decreased kidney weights in females given .2%."  Also shown was that oral administration of Chlorine via hypochlorite ion or hypochlorous acid at 100, 200, 400 mg of Chlorine/liter resulted in "dose-related increases in the amount of sperm-head abnormalities in male mice."  Towards the end of the WHO Guideline for drinking water quality, under the heading "Effects on Humans", the WHO study referenced 2 studies reading the following:

    "In a study of 46 communities in central Wisconsin where chlorine levels in water ranged from 0.2 to 1 mg/litre, serum cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein levels were higher in communities using chlorinated water. Levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and the cholesterol/HDL ratio were significantly elevated in relation to the level of calcium in the drinking-water, but only in communities using chlorinated water.  The authors speculated that chlorine and calcium in drinking-water may interact in some way that affects lipid levels." And, from another study, "An increased risk of bladder cancer appeared to be associated with the consumption of chlorinated tapwater in a population-based, case–control study of adults consuming chlorinated or non-chlorinated water for half of their lifetimes."

    Additional Studies on Chlorine

    In the 1960's, Joseph M. Price, MD performed experiments using chlorine in the drinking water of chickens. He came back to report that 95% of the chickens given chlorine added to distilled water developed atherosclerosis within a few months. In his book, Coronaries/Cholesterol/Chlorine, Dr. Price presented alarming evidence that Trihalomethanes (THMs), are the "prime causative agents of arteriosclerosis and its inevitable result, the heart attack or stroke."

    In the summer of 1992, the New York Times reported on a study directed by Robert D. Morris of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, compiling 10 separate epidemiological studies from the 1970's on chlorinated drinking water. Morris partnered with with epidemiologist Thomas C. Chalmers and his colleagues at Harvard to utilize a statistical technique call meta-analysis.They reported that people drinking chlorinated water over long periods had a 21% increase in the risk of contracting bladder cancer and a 38% increase in the risk of rectal cancer. "I am quite convinced, based on this study, that there is an association between cancer and chlorinated water." said Morris.

    Taking a Chlorine Shower

    According to researcher Bruce Black - Chlorine and Your Shower,  "Taking long hot showers is a health risk--and to a lesser extent baths. They lead to a greater exposure to toxic chemicals contained in water supplies than does drinking the water. The chemicals evaporate out of the water and are inhaled. They can also spread through the house and be inhaled by others. House holders can receive 6 to 100 times more of the chemical by breathing the air around showers and bath than they would by drinking the water."

    Chlorine and The EPA

    In official publications, the EPA has concluded that there is evidence to support a potential association between long term exposure to high levels of THMs and bladder cancer as well as suggestions of an association with colon and rectal cancers. However the EPA notes that health effects data for the reproductive and developmental health effects are inconclusive and do not show causality. In 1980, the EPA adopted new regulations requiring cities to reduce chlorination by-products (THM's) in the water to less than 100 parts per billion. This was later reduced by the EPA to 80 ppb in 1998.

    The position of the EPA is that scientific data proves that the benefits of chlorinating our water far outweigh the risks associated with THM's and other byproducts. While this can be considered a rational regulatory stance, there is insufficient data examining the safety of exposure to THM's on a daily basis over decades, and as a result questions it's strength. It is not whether THM's are carcinogenic, this has been established, but rather, is the average individual ingesting enough THM's through their drinking water for it to be considered a risk.  Unfortunately, our regulatory agencies have not addressed the interaction of chlorine and THM's once they enter the body. It is known fact that a weak carcinogen has the potential to be converted to a strong cancer causing agent by simply adding another weak carcinogen. As the human body is increasingly inundated with various forms of toxic chemicals and free radicals from the water, air, and food we ingest, you have to be left wondering whether the set risk intervals are appropriate given the untested myriad of interaction potentials.

    On a positive note, the EPA is pursuing stricter standards for monitoring and addressing THM's. In a 2006 Texas EPA Public Drinking Water Stakeholder meeting focused on the health effects of disinfection byproducts(DPB), they state as a 2012 goal the following; "Intent of DBP2 [Disinfection ByProducts, Stage 2] – reduce the exposure of customers in areas of the distribution system with relatively high disinfection byproducts (finding the ‘hot spots’)", with operational objectives for municipality violations such as "Must evaluate distribution operations. Must describe plans to change things to fix things." and "Plans to minimize future exceeds."

    How to Eliminate THM's and That Chlorine Smell!

    To address potential long term health hazards, without falling prey to municipality distribution network inconsistencies and slow resolutions, the dependable solution lies in removing THM's at the point of use. You can reduce chlorination by-products by putting water in a jug and letting it sit in the refrigerator overnight, boiling water, or aerating drinking water in a blender. However, these tend to be unrealistic options for the everyday on-the-go person.

    Home water filtration is a best fit, and one of the most effective methods for reducing THM's is through carbon and ceramic filters. A quality filter will remove that chlorine smell and taste, and also protect the small segment of the population that has chlorine allergies. A great choice is Berkey filters. They have the ability to remove Chlorine and THM's to undetectable levels and do so at a very low cost per gallon. Click here for a Berkey 101 Overview.

    Berkey and Chlorine and THM Removal

    The Berkey Water Filter equipped with the standard black berkey filters will remove both Chlorine and THM's to below detectable limits. The Berkey will also remove these contaminants for much longer periods than other filters on the market. So, you can rest easy knowing your Berkey is removing these contaminants to extremely high levels and for extended periods of time.

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