Although chlorine and chloramine effectively kill pathogens in tap water, they might have long-term health effects if consumed for long.
So, why are the 2 still used to disinfect water when it’s clear that they can cause health complications? Well, they are the most cost-effective solutions for treating water on a large scale.
Chlorination is also an effortless task to perform, control and watch.
Water treated with chlorine and chloramine has a nasty smell and taste. It can even change the taste of your tea, coffee, and soup, among other meals.
That’s why even if the 2 are disinfecting agents, you need to filter them from your water.
So, how do you remove chlorine and chloramines from water? Does reverse osmosis remove chlorine and chloramine from drinking water? Keep reading to get the answers to these questions and more.
What's in this Guide?
- Are Chlorine and Chloramines Dangerous?
- What are the Effects of Chlorine on Your Health?
- What are the Effects of Chloramine on Your Health?
- Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Chlorine and Chloramine from Drinking Water?
- How Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Chlorine and Chloramines from Water?
Are Chlorine and Chloramines Dangerous?
A small amount of chloramine and chlorine in the water doesn’t pose a significant threat to your health.
The U.S Environmental Protection Agency demands municipal water treatment facilities to keep chlorine levels in water at not more than 4 mg/L. It’s the amount considered safe for consumption.
You need to remove the 2 disinfectants from your water because they can alter the taste of your water. Sometimes, the taste and smell of chlorinated water are awful enough to make you sick.
In addition, chlorine can combine with organic matter in your water to form Trihalomethanes. TMH is toxic when inhaled, consumed or when it comes into contact with the skin.
Chloramine can also form Trihalomethanes as a byproduct.
What are the Effects of Chlorine on Your Health?
The harmful exposure to chlorine can lead to difficulty in breathing, eye irritation, irritation of the skin, irritation of the airways, sore throat, and wheezing.
The severity of the effect will depend on the dose and duration of exposure. The higher the dosage of chlorine in your water and the longer you’ve been exposed to it, the more severe the effect.
For instance, if you drink high chlorine levels, you’ll most likely suffer from pulmonary edema (fluid build-up in the lungs).
What are the Effects of Chloramine on Your Health?
Chloramine in your water can cause severe skin problems, including itching, flaking of the skin, rashes, blistering, cracking, and bleeding.
It can also disturb other skin conditions like dermatitis and psoriasis.
If you have liver or kidney problems, you are at a higher risk of suffering from ammonia toxicity if you use chlorinated water. In fact, kidney patients can’t use chloraminated water in their dialysis as it can cause hemolytic anemia.
Chloramine can also cause respiratory issues, harm stomach-related mucosa, and trigger stomach-related problems.
Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Chlorine and Chloramine from Drinking Water?
Yes, reverse osmosis removes chlorine and chloramine from water. In fact, reverse osmosis is the most preferred method of eliminating these contaminants from water, as it’ll leave the water with almost zero impurities.
Note that the reverse osmosis membrane alone doesn’t remove chloramines and chlorine. However, RO systems come with multiple pre-filters.
The carbon in the pre-filter removes chlorine and chloramines since the reverse osmosis process works very slowly.
Because of this slow production rate, the carbon filters in the system get ample contact time with your water. The more the carbon filters in the system (before and after the reverse osmosis membrane), the more significant the reduction of chlorine and chloramines in the water.
How Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Chlorine and Chloramines from Water?
Reverse osmosis water filtration systems remove chlorine and chloramine from water through multiple filtration stages.
Typical filters in a reverse osmosis system include a pre-filter, an activated carbon filter, an RO membrane, and a post-filter.
Most chlorine and chloramine are removed in the activated carbon filter stage. In addition, when water passes through the RO membrane, chlorine and chloramine molecules are left behind as they are too large to pass through.
Chlorine, chloramines, and other contaminants are flushed down the drain with wastewater during the filtration process.
Other Methods that Help Reduce Chlorine and Chloramines from Water
Listed below are 2 more methods/systems that you can use to neutralize chlorine and chloramines from your drinking water.
- Ultraviolet Light
UV light makes a great alternative to reverse osmosis when it comes to removing chlorine and chloramines from your drinking water.
UV light is also commonly used in some RO systems as a post filter. It kills microorganisms like bacteria and viruses by destroying their DNA.
- Activated and Catalytic Carbon
Activated carbon is remarkably efficient at removing chlorine from water but not chloramines. This is simply because chloramines boast exceptional stability as a compound.
A very extensive contact time is required for activated carbon to eliminate chloramines from your water. This is why it’s a poor choice for chloramine reduction.
On the other hand, Catalytic carbon is more effective at removing both chlorine and chloramines even with less contact time.
- Chemical Neutralization
This method helps neutralize chlorine and chloramines in your water into chloride and other byproducts that are not harmful.
How Much Chlorine and Chloramines Does Reverse Osmosis Remove?
Reverse osmosis removes up to 98% chlorine and 95% chloramines from tap water. You’ll only be left with tiny traces of chloramine and chlorine that can’t even pass a water chlorine test.
Chlorine and chloramine are added to municipal water to make it safe for cooking and drinking. They should generally not have any harmful effects on your health.
However, as a safety precaution, it’s a great idea to remove or reduce chlorine and chloramine from your drinking water to avoid any possible adverse effects(source).
Reverse osmosis technology is one of the best techniques that help to remove chlorine and chloramine from water.
Go for an independently tested and certified RO system and check to ensure that it’s certified to remove chlorine and chloramine from water.
This way, you won’t have to worry about the quality of your water anymore. Remember, an RO system will eliminate chlorine, chloramine, and thousands of other contaminants present in the water.