Editor’s Note: We have received several comments from individuals who claim that they or someone they know has experienced problems from chloramine in the water, including rashes and gastrointestinal disturbances.
If you vote “yes” then please comment below and tell us what you experienced and where you live. Thank you, Paul Goldfinger, MD. Editor @Blogfinger
Here are links to our prior posts on this subject, and each of these posts has some relevant comments:
We have received the following letter by email on August 25, 2012:
“I recently read your post, ‘Chloramine In Our Water: A Follow Up’” (Aug. 15, 2012) on Blogfinger.net.
“NJ American Water sent residents of Middletown, NJ notice they were going to start adding ammonia to the water supply in mid-June. I am a resident there, in a 55+ adult community called Shadow Lake Village, consisting of apartments/condos.
“According to the NJ Department of Environmental Protection Web site, adding ammonia to the already chlorinated water makes a new compound called chloramine.
“As far as I know, NJ American Water did not tell anyone on the condo board of their decision before doing it, nor did they ask for a discussion with the residents. They should have done their homework.
“The apartment complex was built in 1976 — the plumbing and pipes have not been updated, with pipes containing lead solder. I believe that the chloramine is dissolving lead in the pipes, sending the tainted water right through our faucets.
“Since the end of June, I sneeze every time I wash my face and every time I brush my teeth. I have a rash on my back that a dermatologist just biopsied and we are awaiting results. The rash wasn’t there before June.
“I recently read on the NJ DEP site that there is a list of violators, one of which was NJ American Water. They had 14 violations listed in different communities where they supply water; some of the violations were due to ‘above legal limit for lead.’
“I am tired of getting sick from this water. They put the ammonia in, and they should be the ones responsible for taking the ammonia and chloramine out. If they can’t change the water disinfectants then they should put a catalytic carbon filter in my apartment to stop further rashing and allergic reactions to the chloramine.”
How can you know if you are experiencing an effect from the chloramine in the water, or it’s the result of some preexisting condition, or other unrelated source without running a controlled experiment?
This poll is a survey regarding whether people believe that the water may be affecting their health. It is not a scientific study. If, by chance, enough people think that they are having ill effects from the water, then it would be worthwhile to notify the department of health and the water company.
Environmental toxicity is often first suspected when the public begins to complain about something. For example, about 20% of cases of lead poisoning in the US comes from drinking water. The symptoms are not necessarily obvious and include nausea, numbness, depression and abdominal pain. Would Bullets like to be the guy who misses lead poisoning in a child because he thinks it’s just a “psychogenic illness?”
In 2004, a team of seven reporters from The Washington Post discovered high levels of lead in the drinking water in Washington, D.C. and won an award for investigative reporting for a series of articles about this contamination. I guess the health authorities missed the boat there; but somebody was taking that situation seriously.
Bullets—if you are in the healthcare field, you might want to find another kind of work.
As a coffee-holic and avid summer ice tea brewer I use filtered water a lot (I recommend some sort of filter system for all comsumption) so I can’t speak to taste. If I’ve been out all day and come home and ‘hit the loo’ I do notice a very faint chemical odor in the convenience room that disappears after a flush. Didn’t really notice it before. We all have different sensitivity to chemicals so what may effect one person will have no effect on another.
I have received information from a California organization called Citizens Concerned About Chloramine (chloramine.org) and from Ellen Powell from Vermont (Citizens Concerned About Chloramine).
It seems that controversies about harmful effects of chloramine have been proliferating in recent years in many parts of the US including California, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and North Carolina, among others.
In many of these areas, citizens have reported adverse reactions to their chloramine treated water. The most recent furor occurred this past July (2012) in Charlottesville, Virginia. If you are interested in that news report, go to:
Glad to see you have taken my information and done something useful with it.
Yes, I suffer from all three symptoms that people all over the country do: skin, respiratory, and digestive. I spoke with 300 people in my water district who had the same symptoms I did after the conversion to chloramine in 2006.
What are my credentials? I am a regular person who is sick to death of not being able to use my choraminated tap water without getting symptoms—for six years now.
Editor’s Note: Ms. Powell is co-founder of a citizens group from Vermont where chloramine was added to the water of 9 towns in the Champlain Water District. Their web link is vce.org/chloramine.
Dr. Goldfinger: You did not request that your respondents live in your local area (not exactly sure where that is), but….I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the SFPUC started using chloramine in Feb, 2004.
My first doctor’s appointment for a rash was in Nov 2005. Thus began a long saga of trying to figure out why I had rashes which only got worse & worse til they covered almost all parts of my body. Only after I stopped using our tap water–100%–did the rashes disappear. In addition I had digestive problems, which cleared up completely after I stopped ingesting our water. Thank you for your interest.
Beth: Thank you for your comment. Although our poll is intended for Ocean Grovers and others who are in our water district, we welcome your input. Your story is impressive, but it is an anecdotal report.
Certainly, in an individual case, the hypothesis can be tested and proven by removing the water exposure, as in your case. But some kind of scientific epidemiological study would need to be done to deal with the larger public health issues and to guide public policy.
Are you from the CCAC organization? If so, do you have the results of any large scale research safety data?
Dr. Goldfinger, Our family has been drinking spring water at home since chloramine was introduced to our water last month. One of our four children, who is otherwise healthy, has experienced heartburn and nausea if she drinks the tap water when she is away from home. We have also heard reports from several people that their dogs are reluctant to drink it. One person said her dogs have been looking for other sources of water like their koi pond for water to drink. Very interesting!
This item is from the City of Tulsa (Oklahoma) web site. They introduced chloramines in their water in July, 2012:
“Are chloramines safe?
“Yes, chloraminated water is safe for bathing, drinking, cooking and all everyday uses. Chloramines have been used safely in the U.S., Canada and Great Britain for more than 90 years. Other nearby cities such as Oklahoma City, Sand Springs, Lawton, Norman, Denver, Dallas and Fort Worth have been using chloramine as part of their water treatment process for decades.
“What stances does the federal Environmental Protection Agency take on chloramine?
“The EPA recognizes chloramines as a safe disinfectant and an effective way to reduce DBP (disinfection by-products) formation. In addition, the EPA states that water disinfected with chloramine that meets regulatory standards has no known or anticipated adverse health effects, including skin problems, breathing problems, digestive problems or cancers.”
Unless you filled your pond/aquarium after the change-over in June, you obviously can’t blame the water. My pond has some water in it that was added after the changeover. The fish are OK, but I have a biologic filter built into my system and I use a chloramine antidote into the pond when I top up with household water. That is why I will not worry about adding OG water to the pond. Fish can die from diseases or predators, but also I think their life expectancy is about 7 years.
I just found out about the poll yesterday. I’ll go vote right now. I have been seeing a GI fella, but they have yet to pinpoint the cause of my issues. I have another appointment on 9/5 and am starting as of today to only drink bottled water at home.
Not all GI problems are chloramine related, but for the few that are effected by chloramines… In my experience I had to drink only spring water, wash and bathe with spring water. A well water source would possibly work for showering. I had to avoid the steam from the chlorimated shower and the steam from the chlorimated dishwasher. Yes, difficult to do, but the GI problems disappeared. I have exposed and re-exposed myself 3 different times getting the same results.
I am local and I was told by the NJAWTR that I could report the problems caused by the chloramines in the water to the Regional EPA. I e-mailed someone in the Drinking Water and Groundwater Protection Section. In my e-mail, I asked the following question, “I know of no specific place that people can report symptoms due to chloramine. If there is such a place, no one would know where to call. Is your department the official reporting destination?”
This is part of the reply that I received from this individual from the Drinking Water and Groundwater Protection Section, USEPA – Region 2:
“I’ve discussed this with my Hqs office,,,,,,and unfortunately EPA does not have a dedicated repository for “complaints” on this or other issues/matters.
Your may wish to follow-up with EPA’s Drinking Water Hotline: