What are Chloramines and How to Remove them?

What are Chloramines and How to Remove them?

Did you know
that the “chlorine” smell in your pool is not from the chlorine you
dose it with but from compounds that build up formed when the ammonia in sweat,
urine, mucus, saliva and insects etc reacts with chlorine.

The Centers
for Disease Control (CDC) in the US confirm that “dichloramine and
trichloramine are chloramine compounds sometimes found in and around indoor
swimming pools, which cause skin, eye, and respiratory problems”.  Makes sense, but why does the drinking water
coming out of our taps sometimes have that smell too?

Well, there
is another chloramine, called monochloramine, and various South African water
authorities are using it to treat our water as it has a much better lifespan
than chlorine has in large reticulation systems. Some
municipalities use it intermittently when they have problems with
chlorine-resistant bacteria.

So what is
the difference between chlorine and chloramines – they’re both chemicals,
aren’t they? And it’s important to treat our water to prevent outbreaks of
waterborne diseases, isn’t it?

True, and
both chlorine and chloramines have been used to treat water since the first
quarter of the last century. But chlorine dissipates over time. When you have
to move water over vast distances in hot temperatures, like those we experience
in South Africa, the chlorine can evaporate before the water reaches the last
house on the line. Adding higher percentages of chlorine is not a solution, as
this would adversely affect those at the front of the queue (who the water
reaches first), and anyway, it is cost prohibitive.

As a result,
treatment plants facing this challenge looked for another option. What they
found is that a combination of chlorine and ammonia is effective for much
longer than chlorine on its own. It also means that lower levels of chlorine
are needed to have the same effect, even for houses at the end of the pipeline.
As a result, chloramines are now being used around the world, especially in hot
climates, as an alternative to huge doses of chlorine in the treatment of

But it comes
at a cost.

It goes
without saying that we should be removing all harmful chemicals from our water when
it reaches our homes, and before our families consume it. It’s pretty easy to
remove or reduce levels of chlorine in drinking water by using good home and
work-place water filters. But it is far more difficult to remove chloramine
compounds. It is first necessary to separate the two chemicals, and few water
filters can do this.

absolute removal of chlorine is required, normal filtration will not suffice if
chloramine is present,” confirms H2O International franchisee, Johan
Taute. He raises another concern: “This is a serious problem for those who
know the importance of drinking contaminate-free water; and that includes those
on dialysis treatment, where the complete removal of chloramine is essential.”

So what can
we do? Summer’s here, and we want the purest water we can get to quench our
thirst, but summer is also the time when chloramines are most likely to be
present in our drinking water. Tony Marchesini, MD of H2O International,
advises consumers looking to buy a water purifier to first contact the experts
and to make sure that they get the right purifier for their needs and the
composition of the water in their area.

“Give your
local H2O franchise a ring. We regularly test water for our clients, so we
understand which water contaminants are found in specific parts of the country
and are well-placed to recommend a suitable water purifier.”

And if there
are chloramines in your water, what then? Are there filters on the market that
can remove them? And what about areas that use chloramines only intermittently
– would consumers then need a filter that can remove both chlorine and

The answer is yes-but and yes again. Standard carbon filters (ie the majority of water purifiers) remove only a fraction of chloramines. Marchesini says this is why H2O International has reformulated its proprietary media bed, creating a unique and advanced household purifier that is effective in removing both chlorine and chloramines. “The H2O International range now includes the Chlora+  ‘dual purpose’ water purifier that is able to extract the chlorine as well as the difficult-to-remove chloramines from your water,” Marchesini confirms.