Tag Archives: chloramines in drinking water

  • 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.

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