Chlorine in Drinking Water

Chlorine is used to kill certain bacteria and other microbes in tap water. In particular, chlorination is used to prevent the spread of waterborne diseases such as cholera, dysentery, and typhoid.

The first thing to understand is that the level of chlorine in municipal water supply is quite often MORE THAN what you’d find in a municipal swimming pool.

 

Many people are shocked to find out that the EPA allows 4 parts per million of chlorine in faucet water and only 1-3 parts per million of chlorine in a swimming pool.

 

That’s right. If you’re like most Americans, you’re probably brushing your teeth, cooking, and bathing in water that has higher chlorination levels than a swimming pool. Most of us wouldn’t think of using water from a swimming pool to boil rice for our families to eat, we wouldn’t brush our teeth or bathe our children in pool water…but day in and day out – we’re doing that and worse.

 

Chlorine is used in treating water because it is the most effective agent in killing harmful bacteria - microscopic living organisms-  that we certainly don’t want in the water that we use to cook with and bathe in. But ask yourself…if chlorine is so effective at killing microscopic living organisms…is it possible that continued and repeated exposure to chlorine over years and years might have some adverse effects on larger living organisms? Is it possible that the very same chlorine that we’re using to kill bacteria in water that comes into our homes…is coming into our homes and slowly but surely killing us?

 

Chlorine is a pesticide, as defined by the US EPA. Studies show that drinking chlorinated water may double the risk of bladder cancer. Chlorine kills vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that normally destroys the free radicals which promote tissue breakdown and tumor growth. A lack of vitamin E also constricts arterial walls, weakens capillaries, and contributes to an increase in blood pressure and cardiac dysfunction. Breast cancer which now affects more than one in 8 women in North America has been linked to chlorination. Women with breast cancer had 50-60% higher levels of organochlorides (chlorination byproducts) in their breast tissue.

The best solution to this problem is of course to filter chlorine and other contaminants from the water before use. Each year more and more Americans are turning to this option as the most viable option. While many filter their drinking water with counter-top systems or reusable filter pitchers, a growing number are choosing POE systems. POE stands for point of entry systems and what it means is that all water is automatically treated as it enters the home.

Chloramine in Drinking Water

Chloramine (also known as secondary disinfection) is a disinfectant used to treat drinking water and its most commonly formed when ammonia is added to chlorine to treat drinking water. It also provides a longer-lasting disinfection as the water moves through pipes to consumers.

 

Why are utilities using chloramine? Municipal water systems need to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new, stringent regulations for drinking water under the Stage 2 Disinfectants and Disinfection Byproducts Rule. To comply, water utilities need to reduce the levels of disinfection byproducts, which result when disinfectants react with naturally-occurring materials in the water.

 

According to the EPA, these byproducts “may pose health risks.” Water utilities believe chloramine produces less amounts of regulated disinfection byproducts than chlorine. Thus, utilities are transitioning from chlorine to chloramine as their form of disinfectant. But chloramine poses its own issues when added to water. Ammonia is a food source for bacteria, so when the chloramine breaks down, the ammonia actually feeds the bacteria it is supposed to stop. Chloramine is also very corrosive, particularly with lead and copper.

 

The problem with chloramines is that, unlike chlorine, they are not adequately removed by traditional activated carbon filters. It is not that standard carbon filters are incapable of removing chloramine, but the contact time required is typically far more than is provided for in most standard residential systems. The SmartWater Solution is designed specifically for chloramine removal.

Quality of Water, Water is Life
Quality of Water, Water is Life

Lead can enter drinking water when service pipes that contain lead corrode, especially where the water has high acidity or low mineral content that corrodes pipes and fixtures. The most common problem is with brass or chrome-plated brass faucets and fixtures with lead solder, from which significant amounts of lead can enter into the water, especially hot water.

 

​Homes built before 1986 are more likely to have lead pipes, fixtures and solder. The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) has reduced the maximum allowable lead content - that is, content that is considered “lead-free” - to be a weighted average of 0.25 percent calculated across the surfaces of pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, and fixtures and 0.2 percent for solder and flux.

 

​How can you reduce Lead in drinking water?

 

1. ​Home Flush your pipes before drinking The more time water has been sitting in your home’s pipes, the more lead it may contain. When your water has been sitting for several hours, you can minimize the potential for lead exposure by flushing your tap for 30 seconds to 2 minutes before using water for drinking or cooking.

​2. Only use cold water for eating and drinking: Use only water from the cold-water tap for drinking, cooking, and especially for making baby formula. Hot water is likely to contain higher levels of lead. Run cold water until it becomes as cold as it can get. Boiling water will NOT get rid of lead contamination.

3. ​Invest in a SmartWater Solution. When water passes through the filter, the carbon particles attract and remove contaminants including heavy metals such as lead.

Lead in Drinking Water

Corroded Lead Pipe

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