Most of us consume chlorine daily through our water system. Unless you have studied chlorine and related elements you may not know a great deal about what it is or the risks attached. In this article we explore its benefits, downsides, and how it can be removed to alleviate any risks associated.
What are Chlorine and Chloramine?
Chlorine is a naturally occurring element which can be found in bodies of water and even in the ground. It is most commonly in the form of a gas. At a certain level of pressure and a certain temperature, it can be turned into a liquid.
Chloramine or ‘Chloramines’ as they are often referred, are chlorine combined with ammonia. These stay in the water system for longer than chlorine, and reduce the chances of THMs being created as a by-product.
Why are Chlorine and Chloramine in Water?
In its liquid form, chlorine is added to water supplies, and has been since the early 1900s, to treat water. It disinfects the water and stops the spread of viruses and bacteria. It has an ability to kill sub-micron type viruses which other disinfectants struggle with.
While chlorine is the most prevalent ‘contaminant’ within water, there is no denying that it serves an important purpose in the water supply. Chlorine and its derivatives are one of the best ways we have to ensure that dangerous pathogens don’t spread via our water supplies.
Many municipal supplies of water have switched to chloramines due to the reduced risks and the fact they don’t dissipate anywhere near as quickly as ‘straight’ chlorine when coming into contact with the air.
Risks of Chlorine
Chlorine can form trihalomethanes as a by-product. These are commonly referred to as THMs. This can cause ‘free radicals’ to be produced within the human system, which can cause cell damage. This has been extremely strongly linked to cancer within the US, as found in numerous studies.
On top of the cancer link, chlorine has been shown to worsen the symptoms of asthma and other respiratory conditions. It has also been linked to heart disease in tests conducted on animals.
Chlorine can cause an unpleasant smell and taste to water. While this in itself won’t cause an issue, it is far from ideal for your water supply to be unappealing to drink. It can also cause skin irritations, and this is especially prevalent among children. This comes as a result of bathing or showering in water with high levels of chlorine. If chlorine turns to gas in the shower then it can have profound impacts on the respiratory system.
How To Remove Chlorine and Chloramines from Your Home’s Water Supply?
Filtration of the water in your home’s supply is the best way to remove chlorine and chloramine.
Some filters are better than others for this particular purpose.
Activated Carbon and Catalytic Carbon
Activated carbon and catalytic carbon are extremely useful due to their effectiveness in filtering out a variety of elements, chlorine included.
These are just small grains of carbon which have been made more porous. Incredibly, four grams of this ‘activated’ carbon has the equivalent surface area of a football field. As the water flows through then the contaminant elements stick to the carbon which leaves the water free of contaminants once it has flowed through.
Activated carbon is not as effective at filtering out chloramine. “Catalytic carbon” is more commonly used for chloramine water supplies as it is specifically designed to remove chloramines without taking any longer than other types of carbon.
KDF(copper-zinc) is another element which can be effective when it comes to removing both chlorine and chloramines. KDF85 breaks down the bonded ammonia, and makes it a simpler process for the carbon filter to then remove both the chlorine and ammonia separately. Many top filters combine KDF with Carbon to provide an extra level of filtration and effectiveness.
Chlorine and Chloramine serve a purpose, but they aren’t perfect and can even be quite harmful. Considering how effective a water filter can be, and the fact that they are relatively simple to install and affordable to run, these are the best way to remove chlorine and its derived products from your water system. There is no need to take any health risk at all.
Filter systems can be installed for the whole house. This means that all of the water, whether used for showering or drinking, will have had chlorine and chloramine removed.