Chlorine in water is not unusual because it removes hazardous, disease-causing germs and viruses from drinking water. Because of this, the discovery of chlorine in drinking water typically does not raise any concerns.
Disinfectants like chlorine and chloramine help treat bacteria and viruses carried by water. You cannot avoid drinking water that contains traces of chlorine in the majority of American states. Since municipal providers in America supply water to 86 percent of American families, it is safe to assume that chlorine is present in the tap water of the majority of homes.
Here is all the information you need to know about chlorine, including what it is, why your water supply has it, and methods to remove it from your water.
What is Chlorine or Chloramine?
Chlorine is a chemical that has more uses than only cleaning, despite what you may think. Let’s look more closely:
The Earth’s crust and saltwater naturally have various forms of chlorine. Chlorine, like many other elements, have all three states of matter:
- Solid when present in naturally occurring compounds, such as crystalline rock salt
- Liquid when cooled
- Gas at room temperature
On the other hand, chloramine is simply chlorine combined with ammonia. Municipal water providers use chloramine as a disinfection agent more frequently than chlorine. One reason for the switch is concern about the negative consequences of chlorination. Visit Environmental Working Group to access a study that will tell you more about the ingredients in your drinking water.
Why is Chlorine Added to Drinking Water?
The first thing that comes to most peoples’ minds when they think about chlorine is swimming pools. But chlorine is also used as a disinfectant in water treatment facilities to ensure that the water that travels from the water treatment plant to your home is clean.
Since every house has a different distance from the water treatment plants, it is challenging to guarantee that each house receives equal amount of chlorine when water reaches their faucets because chlorine breaks down and evaporates during the process. Therefore, it is crucial to disinfect the water during its route by raising the level of chlorine in houses, which is often a higher than a low level.
One of the most significant advancements in public health of the 20th century was the use of chlorine as a water disinfectant, which lessened the effects of contaminated water spreading water-borne illnesses among the populace.
Chloramine, created by mixing chlorine and ammonia, has also gained popularity as a water disinfectant for various reasons. Overall, chlorine and chloramine are highly helpful in preserving clean water, yet, both compounds are intrinsically harmful. After all, excessive chlorine or chloramine in the water can have severe health impacts.
Are Chlorine and Chloramine Safe to Drink?
Chlorine is a low-cost disinfectant that safeguards consumers from harmful water-borne illnesses. Chloramine is often used in conjunction with chlorine. Are they safe to drink though?
Although chlorine aims to prevent hazardous substances from getting into your drinking water, it has some adverse health effects that you should know. Too much chlorine and its by-products in water can cause significant problems, especially if you are at risk and have a specific medical condition.
Here’s how chlorine present in water affects our health:
- Showering with chlorine water can cause dry skin and dry hair, itchiness, unpleasant skin rashes, eczema flare-ups, or psoriasis.
- Inhaled while taking a shower or bath may cause asthma episodes.
- Because chlorine by-products are carcinogenic, having them in your water increases your risk of developing bladder or breast cancer.
- It may also harm a baby or young child’s nervous system.
- It could be the cause of miscarriage and reproductive issues.
What levels are considered safe?
Chlorinated water is safe up to 4 parts per million (ppm). However, online data reveals that there is still much research to establish whether even this small chlorine consumption may impact our health and wellness.
For example, a recent study discovered that chlorinated tap water creates harmful carcinogens that may lead to cancer. The CDC and other organizations have already assured the public that chlorine and chloramine in small amounts are safe.
Five Ways to Remove Chlorine and Chloramine from Tap Water
A range of water treatment methods, some more expensive than others, can be used to remove chlorine from water. The following techniques will help you understand how to remove chlorine from water:
Boiling water remove chlorine content, ensuring a safe and healthy usage. It is a simple way to remove chlorine as you boil the water for fifteen to twenty minutes. However, boiling will leave the chloramine for much longer in your water than aeration.
Although this approach is an excellent technique to get viruses and germs out of your drinking water, it is not a 100% reliable water treatment. Hazardous pollutants like heavy metals are still present in boiling water. Unfortunately, boiling will not get rid of those.
The evaporation process is one of the simplest ways to remove chlorine from water. Chlorine is very volatile. Therefore, the chlorine will evaporate if you just let the water stand if you don’t want to pay money to remove it. Despite taking much longer, this approach is almost as successful as filtering. To ensure chlorine has evaporated, do a strip test.
Reverse Osmosis System
A reverse osmosis (RO) system can be a good option for people searching for a cost-efficient but efficient solution to remove chlorine from water. While the other filters in the RO System will eliminate other contaminants, including pesticides, lead, arsenic, fluoride, nitrates, and more, the carbon filter stage in a RO System (as a pre-filter/post-filter) can remove chlorine.
UV light triggers a variety of chemical processes that removes chlorine. The wavelengths that this bulb works at range from 180 to 400 nanometers. The optimal wavelength for removing free chlorine ranges from 180 to 200 nanometers.
There aren’t many people who use this bulb to remove chlorine from water. A UV lamp may seem perfect, but it just breaks down organic pollutants in the water rather than removing them. Additionally, it has less effect on chemicals and dissolved metals.
Use a Water Filtration System
Chlorine water treatment systems have activated carbon filters. Under-sink filtering solutions like reverse osmosis systems can also lower the amount of chlorine in your drinking water.
However, a whole-house filtration system means you’ll have less chlorine smell when washing clothes, showering, drinking, and cooking. The best strategy to lower chlorine levels in your house is to get a high-quality whole house water filter.
The Bottom Line
Most clean water for public health uses chlorine and chloramine, two exceptionally efficient water disinfection techniques. However, excessive use of either chemical can have unfavorable side effects, some long-lasting and concerning.
In either case, the first step in avoiding these negative health impacts is to test your water for elevated levels of chlorine and chloramine. If removing chlorine and chloramine from water is essential, consider using one of the four techniques: water filtration, boiling, evaporation, or UV light.
While some techniques can remove chlorine and chloramine, others cannot. Don’t be afraid to contact DROP if you’re unsure how to determine the chlorine levels in your water.
A more recent chemical technique for neutralizing chlorine is vitamin C. The vitamin C compounds, ascorbic acid and sodium ascorbate, can neutralize chlorine in the water. Neither is a dangerous chemical. In contrast to compounds made of sulfur, vitamin C does not significantly reduce the amount of dissolved oxygen.
Secondly, vitamin C is not hazardous to aquatic life at the concentrations employed for dechlorinating water. While sodium ascorbate is neutral and won’t impact the pH of the treated water or the receiving stream.
However, ascorbic acid is mildly acidic and, in large concentrations, will lower the pH of the treated water.
You can leave the water for one to five days to let the chlorine completely evaporate.
You can remove chlorine naturally by leaving the water in the open air. You can speed up the process of dechlorinating tap water by adding air bubbles. Use an air stone to aerate the water for 12–24 hours or boil it for 15–20 minutes to hasten the evaporation process.
No, water softeners do not remove chlorine on their own. You need to pair them with a water filter in order to remove Chlorine from your water.