What are chloramines?

Chloramines are a type of disinfectant made of chlorine and ammonia used to kill potentially harmful bacteria in the water.

Why did the City of Rocky Mount change to chloramines?

Rocky Mount started chloraminating in 2003 because in comparison to chlorine, chloramines form fewer chemicals in water, improve the smell and odor of water, and last longer to prevent bacterial growth in water. Rocky Mount was recognized by the NC AWWA as having the best testing water in the state in 2004 and 2010 after the switch to chloramines. Chloramine disinfectant residual allows the City to meet regulatory limits on trihalomethane (such as chloroform) concentration and continue to provide potable water that meets all regulatory standards.

Are chloramines safe?

Yes. Chloramines are an EPA approved disinfectant for drinking water. Chloramines have been used safely in the U.S. and Canada for many years. Chloraminated water is safe for everyone to drink, including:

  • Pregnant women
  • Children and infants
  • People on kidney dialysis
  • People on low-sodium diets
  • People with diabetes
  • Pets
  • Bird baths

What about people who are sensitive to chemicals?

The amount of chloramines will be extremely small, generally less than 2.5 parts per million. If you are concerned that even at this low concentration it may cause problems for you, check with your physician.

Will chloramines affect swimming pools?

No. You still will need a free chlorine residual to retard algae and bacteria growths. Chloramines are destroyed by swimming pool chlorine. At worst, you'll need to use additional chemical. Even without added chlorine, chloramine will still dissipate eventually. Contact your local pool supply stores for specific information.

Do home water softeners remove chloramines?

Most water softeners are not designed to remove chloramines.

Will there be any free ammonia in the water as this is corrosive to copper pipe?

Free ammonia from chloraminated water, if any, will not be a significant factor in copper pipe corrosion.

Do chloramines change the pH of water?

No, it will remain the same.

Do other water suppliers in North Carolina chloraminate?

Most water suppliers in North Carolina chloraminate. Some water suppliers that chloraminate in 2017 are Raleigh, Greensboro, Durham, Fayetteville, Winston Salem, Tarboro, Wilmington, Brunswick County, Union County, and Johnson County.

For dialysis patients

How do chloramines affect kidney dialysis patients?

Although it is safe for dialysis patients to drink chloraminated water, it is obviously not safe to have it directly enter their bloodstream. In the dialysis process, water comes in contact with the blood across a permeable membrane. Like chlorine, chloramines are toxic in dialysis water. Chlorine and chloramines must be removed from the water used in kidney dialysis machines. Medical centers that perform dialysis are responsible for purifying the water that enters the dialysis machines.Hemodialysis patients who receive treatment at home should check with their physicians for the appropriate type of water treatment.

Why do kidney dialysis patients need to take special precautions?

In the dialysis process, the compounds in water come in contact with the blood across a permeable membrane. Chloramines in that water would be harmful, just as chlorine is harmful and must be removed from water used in kidney dialysis machines. There are two ways to do that: either by adding ascorbic acid or by using a granular-activated carbon treatment. Medical centers that perform dialysis are responsible for preparing the water that enters the dialysis machines. They are being informed of this change.

Is it safe for kidney dialysis patients to drink water containing chloramines?

Yes. Because the digestive process metabolizes chloramines before they reach the bloodstream, everyone can drink chloraminated water. Even kidney dialysis patients can drink, cook, and bathe in chloraminated water. It's only when water interacts directly with the blood stream, as in dialysis or in a fish's gill structure, that chloramines must be removed.

What should people with home dialysis machines do to remove chloramines?

You should first check with your dialysis physician, who will probably recommend the proper type of water treatment. Often, home dialysis service companies can make the needed modifications, but you should check with your physician to be certain.

Can people with kidney ailments, with diabetes, or on low-sodium diets use chloraminated water?

Yes, people with those medical problems can use chloraminated water for all everyday purposes such as bathing, drinking and cooking. If you have specific questions about your dialysis, please call your doctor or your dialysis center.

For aquarium owners

How do chloramines affect fish?

Chloramines are harmful to fish and must be removed from water just as chlorine is harmful and must be removed. You may not have to remove chlorine from your aquarium water, however, because it breaks up rapidly on its own. This is not the case with chloramines, so steps should be taken to remove chloramines. Most pet stores have sold de-chlorinating agents for years and generally have recommended using them. These chemicals used to remove chlorine should work just as well for chloramines. Several manufacturers have been adding chloramine information on their product labels for years.

How does ammonia affect fish?

Ammonia is also released when chloramines are chemically removed. Ammonia can be harmful to fish, even though fish produce some ammonia as a natural byproduct. Although ammonia levels may be tolerable in individual tanks or ponds, commercial products are available to remove excess ammonia. Also, biological filters, natural zeolites, and pH control methods are useful in reducing the toxic effects of ammonia.

Are both saltwater fish and fresh water fish affected by chloramines?

Yes, chloramines affect saltwater fish just as they affect freshwater fish. Chloramines will need to be removed if the water used to make saltwater solutions comes from a chloraminated supply.

Are Koi fish affected by chloramines like other fish?

Yes, Koi are just as susceptible to being harmed by chloramines as any other fish.

Won't letting water sit for a few days remove chloramines from tanks or pond water?

No. Unlike chlorine, which disappears when water sits for a few days, chloramines may take weeks to disappear. If you don't want to use a de-chloraminating chemical, the next best solution is to install a granular-activated carbon filter and allow sufficient contact time between the water and filter.