Why are chloramines used to treat drinking water? What concerns exist about using them?
According Water Technology Inorganic chloramines are increasingly chosen as secondary disinfectant treatments for drinking water in municipal water systems because they are less chemically reactive than free chlorine. They produce fewer disinfection byproducts than chlorine, and they survive longer during drinking water distribution to consumers. Chloramines are a generic chemical family of compounds that consist of amine nitrogen bound to chlorine. Those of interest in water are inorganic chloramines and organic chloramines. They are also chemical intermediates in the production of other chemicals and rapidly form on-site in water by reacting some form of ammonia or amine, including ammonium salts, with active chlorine or hypochlorite. Amides and proteins will also N-chlorinate.
Chloramine treatment of drinking water as a secondary disinfectant is increasing to help water suppliers meet THM and HAA regulations. Monochloramine is low cost and effective because it is less chemically reactive than free chlorine and produces fewer, different DBPs. DBPs and chloramines are present in larger amounts in swimming pools and hot tubs where their volatility and air concentrations in indoor areas can be a respiratory problem. Chloramines must be removed from fish tanks and water used in kidney dialysis by pretreatment. They can be removed in home tap water, if desired, but their long use history belies some of the concerns that have been expressed.
Article by : Dr. Joe Cotruvo is president of Joseph Cotruvo and Associates, LLC, Water, Environment and Public Health Consultants. He is a former director of the EPA Drinking Water Standards Division.
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