Chloramines – A New Threat Exposed

Chloramines – A New Threat Exposed

Chloramines – A New Threat Exposed


In order to combat the problem posed by Chlorine water treatment authorities have begun to replace it with Chloramine. Chloramines, a mixture of chlorine and ammonia, are supposed to be more stable than chlorine, forming less deadly disinfection by-products (DPB's) such as Tri-Halomethanes. Because they have a stable chemical nature Chloramines last longer in the distribution system, which means Chloramines are better suited to countries like the United States and Australia where there are often large distances between the water treatment plant and homes.  And they are thought safer. However, research released late 2004 found something no-one had expected.

Scientists found that the DPB's of Chloramine are even more toxic than chlorine's DPB's – Up to a shocking 300 times more toxic than those produced by chlorine!

"What's even more disconcerting is the fact that only an estimated 30% of these Deadly by-products of chlorine alternatives have even been studied for their toxic effects. Basically, we have no idea of how the chemicals now present in our water will affect us or our children. Essentially, we're the guinea pigs in a huge poison study."

Scientists from the University of Illinois recently tested the chloramine DPB's found in regular tap water.

"By-product of water disinfection process found to be highly toxic." 15 Sep 2004 A recently discovered disinfection by-product (DBP) found in U.S. drinking water treated with chloramines is the most toxic ever found, says Michael J. Plewa, a genetic toxicologist in the department of crop sciences at the University of Illinois who tested samples on mammalian cells.

"This research says that when you go to alternatives, you may be opening a Pandora's box of new DBPs' and they may be much more toxic, by orders of magnitude, than the regulated ones we are trying to avoid."

"One of the five detailed in the study, iodoacetic acid, is the most toxic and DNA damaging to mammalian cells in tests of known DBPs'. These iodoacetic acids raise new levels of concerns," he said. "Not only do they represent a potential danger because of all the water consumed on a daily basis, water is recycled back into the environment. What are the consequences?"

Some 600 DBPs have been identified since 1974, Plewa said.  Scientists believe they've identified maybe 50 percent of all DBPs that occur in chlorine treated water, but only 17 percent of those occurring in chloramines-treated water

Some DBPs in chlorine-treated water have been found to raise the risks of various cancers, as well as birth and developmental defects."

The problem with chloramines is only the tip of the iceberg as cancers that may be caused by DPB's may not evident for 40 or more years. This is something you do not want happening to you.

"Individuals who consume chlorinated drinking water have an elevated risk of cancer of the bladder, stomach, pancreas, kidney and rectum as well as Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma," Plewa wrote. "DBPs also have been linked to reproductive and developmental effects, including the induction of spontaneous abortions."


In San Francisco, the addition of chloramines in February 2004 to the peninsula's drinking water has provoked "chloramine wars," pitting outraged citizens against the municipal water boards, The San Francisco Examiner noted last summer.

Chloraminated water kills fish and reptiles. When it was added to the San Francisco water supply it nearly had the same effect on some humans.

"I almost died," Denise Kula Johnson of Menlo Park said the day after chloramines were added to her water supply. "I was in the shower and suddenly I could not breathe. I passed out on the floor. I was terrified."

Leading the crusade against chloramines in drinking water is Winn Parker, a medical technologist from Milbrae, Calif.

"This is a national issue," Parker told AFP. "The government is hiding the fact that the drinking water is not usable."

 The most at-risk groups from chloraminated water are, according to Parker: the fetus in the first trimester, children to age three, people over age 60 and those with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Women in the 35-45 age group are at risk of recurring rashes on the inner thighs and chest, he added.

Twenty years ago the use of chloraminated water in Los Angeles was found to be potentially lethal to kidney patients during dialysis.

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