Chloramines in Your Drinking Water: Safe or Harmful?

Chloramines may be something you’ve never heard of before but they’ve been in your drinking water for a while. For some cities, it’s been nearly 100 years.

Let’s back up a moment. What are chloramines and why should you be interested in them? You probably know what chlorine is and how it has been used to help disinfect drinking water before it enters your home.

Chloramines are a combination of chlorine and ammonia and that mix has caused a number of consumer concerns. One of them is that ammonia itself is a food source for bacteria which means the germs are growing and not being depleted. The next is that chloramines are corrosive and can damage copper piping.[1]

Chloramines – the plural is used because it can come in many forms depending on the pH and mineral content of the water – have been the backup disinfectant to chlorine for a long time in major cities like Cleveland, OH, Springfield, IL, and Lansing, MI. A 1998 survey done by the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] reported that as many as 68 million Americans – that’s 1 in 5 – had been drinking water disinfected with chloramines.[2]


Why the Switch?

There is one really important reason why chloramines were added as a back up to chlorine: Chlorine dissipates quickly and the result could be that germs remain in the drinking water.

But there’s an even bigger concern about chloramines and that’s what they can do to your health. Research is currently underway to provide better answers as to why the use of chloramines to disinfect your water is risky business.

Risky Business

Exposure to chloramines in your drinking water can cause skin rashes and itching. It also doesn’t kill the pathogens that live in your water.

That may be okay for a healthy person but it isn’t for someone who has an autoimmune disease or children and the elderly.[3]

Here’s a way to find out whether your water treatment plant is using chloramines as its disinfectant: Ask for a consumer confidence report. In this report, you will see what the contaminant levels are over a certain period of time and see how that compares to the safe levels the EPA describes.[4]

If you find that your water contains chloramines, removal is the next step.

The Chloramine Removal Process

There are two good ways to remove chloramine from your water: An activated charcoal filter or use of a reverse osmosis system.


There are two types you should consider and each of them comes in either a rigid block containing activated carbon and a binder or a shell with granulated activated carbon or GAC:

  • Charred and activated coconut
  • Wood

The carbon absorbs the chloramine but there is a caveat: Once the carbon filter wears out, you must replace it.

Reverse Osmosis

Reverse osmosis systems are a great choice for your workplace to provide clean, fresh drinking water for your employees and guests. One of the most important things to consider when choosing a reverse osmosis system is to make sure the chloramines are removed using a chloramine filter before the water gets to the reverse osmosis membrane.

PWT products utilize both GAC filter and Reverse Osmosis. It even includes a 4th coconut fiber filter for added filtering & taste benefits.

Make sure to see the certifications provided by any point of use water filtration system before buying the product. They should carry the WQA gold seal as well as ISO 9001 and 14001.