Chloramine FAQs

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Answers to frequently asked questions about our water disinfectant

The Utilities Department uses chloramines as the primary disinfectant in Englewood's water system. This water disinfectant requires that dialysis patients and people who have fish take precautions before using treated water. Because of this, some of our customers may have questions about chloramines. The answers to many frequently asked questions are listed below.

Are chloramines new?
Not at all. Many cities in the U. S. and Canada have used chloramines for decades. Denver, for instance, has used chloramines since 1917. Other local water providers using chloramines include Aurora and Westminster.

Why did Englewood make the change to chloramines?
The City of Englewood Utilities Department decided to use chloramines because they last longer in the distribution system, because they lack of taste and odor, and for their safety. It has also been shown that chloramines help deliver water with the lowest possible levels of disinfection by-products.

Are there any individuals who may be harmed by the use of chloramines?
There are two groups of people who need to take special precautions with chloraminated water: kidney dialysis patients and fish owners.

Why do kidney dialysis patients have to take special precautions?
Chloramines are harmful when they go directly into the bloodstream, as happens in kidney dialysis. In the dialysis process, water comes in contact with the blood across a permeable membrane. Chloramines easily pass through this membrane. Just as chlorine is toxic in that water, chloramines would be toxic and must be removed from water used in kidney dialysis machines.

How can people with home dialysis machines remove chloramines?
There are two ways to do that - either by adding ascorbic acid or using granular activated carbon treatment. You should first check with your physician, who will probably recommend the appropriate type of water treatment. Often, home dialysis service companies can make the needed modifications, but you should check with your physician to be certain.

If chloramines are toxic, won’t they harm people and pets?
No. To be harmful, chloramines have to go directly into the blood stream, as happens in kidney dialysis. Fish take chloramines directly into their blood streams through their gills. That’s why chloramines must be removed from water used for either of these purposes. 

Can people with kidney ailments, on low-sodium diets, or with diabetes use chloraminated water?
Yes. People with those medical problems can use chloraminated water for all purposes.

Do home water softeners remove chloramines?
Most water softeners are not designed to remove chloramines. 

How do chloramines affect fish?
Because fish absorb chloramines directly from the water into their blood streams, chloramines are toxic and must be removed from water, just as chlorine was toxic and had to be removed. You may not have had to remove chlorine from your aquarium water, however, because it disappears rapidly on its own. This will not happen with chloramines and steps should be taken to remove chloramines. Most pet stores have sold dechlorinating agents for years and, generally, have recommended using them. The chemicals used to remove chlorine should work just as well for chloramines. Several manufacturers have been adding chloramine information on labels on their products for years. 

Won’t letting water sit for a few days remove chloramines from tank or pond water?
No. Chlorine dissipates when water is left to sit for a few days. Chloramines may take weeks to disappear. If you don’t want to use a dechloraminating chemical, the next best solution is to install a granular activated filter and allow sufficient contact time. 

Are both salt and fresh water fish affected by chloramines?
Chloramines affect salt water fish just as they effect fresh water fish. Chloramines will have to be removed if the water used to make salt water solution comes from a chloraminated supply. 

Will a granular activated carbon filter remove chloramines?
Yes. However, it must contain high quality granular activated carbon and you must permit sufficient contact time.

Will chloramines be removed by boiling the water?
No. Boiling is not an effective method of removing chloramines from water. The only practical methods for removing chloramines from water are using a water conditioner that contains a dechlorination chemical or by using granular activated carbon.