Is Your City Putting Chloramines in Your Water?

By JULIE - 9:26:00 PM

VitaShower Vitamin C Shower Filter
Many cities are switching from using chlorines to chloramines due to cost and EPA regulations.  Minneapolis has been using Chloramines to disinfect it's water supply since the 1950's.   According to the EPA one in five Americans have chloramines added to their water.  

I learned that chloramines are in our water supply while recently researching water filters (to remove flouride and radio active isotopes that will be another article coming soon) only to find out that our filter we currently use has been ineffective in removing chloramines from our water since it is not designed to remove it.  I just assumed our water was treated with chlorine.

What is Chloramine?
Chloramine is a combination of chlorine and ammonia.  It is more stable meaning it stays in the water longer, and therefore water treatment plants need less of it and that makes it cheaper.  That also means it is harder for use the consumer to remove it from our water.   

Are Chloramine Safe?
A pool filled by water treated with chloramine casts a green color
According to an article by Medical News "Byproduct of water disinfection process found to be highly toxic", no it is not.  The article talks about a study conducted and/or funded by 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.

The EPA has required water systems to reduce chlorine by-product levels caused when organic materials mix with chlorine. EPA suspects that these by-products cause bladder cancer.  Humm....So let me get this straight, the EPA is concerned about the safety of using chlorine so they allow the use of chloramines as an alternative (chlorine and ammonia).  Which they knew even less about the safety of and is nearly impossible to remove for the consumer.

One thing I find interesting is that upon searching for the removal of chloramines I found lots of aquarium fish clubs talking about how to remove chloramines from the water because it kills fish. The EPA themselves say that chloramines must be removed from aquariums so as to not kill fish and from kidney dialysis treatments, "because it will be neutralized in our digestive system".  My interpretation of this is that humans and fish must be able to filter out this contaminant to avoid severe reactions or death.  Meaning it must be viewed to the body as a contaminant or toxin that must be filtered.  Hmmm... that doesn't sound so good...  Some examples are talking about how to removal chloramine are the Upper Midwest Koi Club MN Fish Keeper's Forum, topic: Scrubbing Chloramine Out Of Minneapolis water.

Even if chloramines are safe I don't want to shower in it for the same reason I don't use products that have sodium Laurel Sulfate in it.   It drys out your hair and skin, causing you to need to use more products.  Everyone knows how you feel when you come out of the pool.  And if it's not safe it's even worse to absorb it through your skin because it is absorbed directly through the blood stream and inhaled into the lungs.

How Do You Get Chloramines Out Of Your Shower and Bath Water?
Chlorine will evaporate into the air and can be partially removed by boiling water or leaving it exposed to the air where chloramines will not evaporate into the air much.  Chlorine is also easily removed by inexpensive carbon filters.  Chloramine needs to be exposed to a very large amount of carbon for an extended time to remove any of it under cold water.  This doesn't pose well for shower filters that deal with a large amount of hot water coming out quickly.

According to the SF Water treatment ""Chloramine is not a persistent disinfectant and decomposes easily from a chemistry point of view (Valentine et al, 1998) but for water supply purposes chloramine is stable and it takes days to dissipate in the absence of substances exerting chloramine demand (Wilczak et al., 2003b). Therefore, it is not practical to remove chloramine by letting an open container of water stand because it may take days for chloramine to dissipate.  However, chloramine is very easily and almost instantaneously removed by preparing a cup of tea or coffee, preparing food (e.g., making a soup with a chicken stock). Adding fruit to a water pitcher (e.g., slicing peeled orange into a 1-gal water pitcher) will neutralize chloramine within 30 minutes. If desired, chloramine and ammonia can be completely removed from the water by boiling; however, it will take 20 minutes of gentle boil to do that. Just a short boil of water to prepare tea or coffee removed about 30% of chloramine.... If desired, both chlorine and chloramine can be removed for drinking water purposes by an activated carbon filter point of use device that can be installed on a kitchen faucet. If desired, both chlorine and chloramine can be removed for bathing purposes by dissolving Vitamin C in the bath water (1000 mg Vitamin C tablet will neutralize chloramine in an average bathtub)"

Vitamin C Filters
I found through my research that it seems as though neutralizing it with vitamin c is the most effective way to deal with chloramines in terms of showering or bathing.  In terms of drinking water there are specific filters that can help to remove it.  I will talk about that in a post to come soon when I am able to do more research on that aspect of our own water filtration.

Vitamin C neutralizes chloramines, the byproducts are dehydroascorbic acid (an oxidized form of ascorbic acid (vitamin C), ammonia, and chloride (a chemical the human body needs for metabolism the process of turning food into energy).  So basically all that's left that could be bad is ammonia probably which is probably at least much better than chlorine attached to ammonia. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) has recently been included in AWWA (American Water Works Association) Standard (AWWA, 2005b) as one of the methods for dechlorination of disinfected water mains. There are no NSF International certified point of use devices utilizing Vitamin C, however SFPUC (San Francisco Public Utilities Commission) determined that 1000 mg of Vitamin C removes chloramine and chlorine completely in a medium size bathtub Inspired

You can use vitamin c filters for the shower or vitamin c tablets for your bath.  We purchased VitaShower SF-1 from it was $24 with free shipping if you spend over $25.  We've only had it for a week so far and seems to work feel.  You can read reviews on other vitamin c filters on Metaeffecient.  

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  1. Hey Julie! Since I moved to LA my hair has been falling a lot and I know it is because of the water, which can also damages my skin. I know that amomnia causes hair loss and I am wondering how to get rid of it, since the Vitamin C shower filter doesn't do the work. Is there another option? Thank you for your article it is super helpful.

    1. I feel your pain. I have had hair loss for over 10 yrs now. Mine is due to my hormonal imbalance(PCOS)and or my psoriasis(an autoimmune skin disease). Are you sure it's not medical? Hormonal imbalances such as PCOS and Hypothyroid are extremely common and both cause hair loss as well as some medications. It can also be related to stress, pregnancy, menopause, etc. I would check with your Dr to make sure it's not a side effect of any medications you are on and take a simple hormone test. If it's not medical and it actually is ammonia.... well that's tricky. I'm assuming you have chloramines in your water which is nearly impossible to get out. You could get a Reverse Osmosis system and wash your hair with that. You could try to filter the water with lots of carbon or even better catalytic carbon. Basically to remove chloramines you need lots of carbon and lots of contact time, soooo.... if vitamin c filters aren't working in the shower you would need to have water treated an stored to run through your shower or use treated water in a sink or something.

  2. Hey ! Thank you for your answer ! I started using the vitamin C filter and 70 of my hair stopped falling as before !! I'm super happy ! But the other part I think is hormones because I have anemia and it's very hard to balance the iron in my body so I get hormone problems... I should see a doctor to check these other things too.. But the shower is super helpful and makes my hair beautiful ! The problem is that my skin is still dry because the vitamin C filter doesn't take the calcium and other stuff...I was wondering if it's possible to filter these other substances that dry my skin you have any suggestions? Thank you so much for the reply !!

    1. I'm glad to hear that your hair is no longer falling out. I would still check with your Dr to make sure your hair loss is not medically related. It could just be a happy coincidence that it stopped. Mine happens a few times a year. It doesn't hurt to check. :) As for dry skin it could be medical too. Hypothyroid can cause dry skin AND hair loss and is a very common hormone disorder. It could also be a skin condition such as eczema, or simply the way you shower. I would first rule out other things in the shower that can dry out your skin and I highly suggest getting your hormones tested. Here is the Mayo clinics causes of dry skin Hot water can dry out the natural oils in your skin. I wouldn't suggest taking a cold shower, just trying to not have it crazy hot and keep your shower short. Another potential problem is the soap you use. Body washes often have Surfactants which replaced soap in most products because it is cheaper and a very effective cleaner. The problem is surfactants are commercial cleaners (serious chemical cleaners) and very harsh on skin and hair (most shampoos have it too). I would suggest using a lotion bar (has no cleansers in it only moisturizers), or a soap that is real soap with moisturizers in it like DR Brommers castile soap you can find Dr Brommers at Target, Walgreens, Trader Joe's, Co-op's etc. Hope this helps!


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