Tap water and chloramine

Dr. Myers,
   Is it o.k. to water your plants with straight tap water? Obviously all tap water isnt created equal, but generally, is it o.k.? Also, I've recently found out that my local water company uses chloramines. Should I consider buying spring water from the grocery to water my plants with?

Thanks for this E-mail, you are on top of your environmental goings on, good for you.
There seems to be some debate about this issue.  Some studies say tap water with chloramine is fine to drink and therefore water plants with.   There is a link below of some studies by our federal government.  A lot of other places say it is bad.  One thing I read was that chloramine is a mutagen and it can cause respitory problems if inhaled.  They mentioned showers but if you grow hydropincally you will also have water vapor in the air so you are putting chloramine in  the air your breath.   The bad news is that it is NOT as easy to get rid of chloramine as chlorine.  (this is one reason it is used, it will kill/ disinfect for longer periods in larger water treatment facilities)  With chlorine you could boil the water or just let it sit in an open pot over night. Neither of these remove chloramine. More bad news is that most of the tests were on animals, not plants so there is not much scientific info. out there about plants.

I was contacted (see first comment below) by a chloramine organization about many possible dangers.  If you are worried use spring water and contact your municipality.   There is also a petition to sign on the first comment below.  I was then contacted (without a name so we don't know their angle of interpretation) by someone that compared chloramines to chlorine.  Saying they both are bad so why not use chloramine since it is more effective in large facilities.   Since both chlorine and chloramines seem to have many negative side effects, it sounds like many municipalities need to find a new way to disinfect water such as using UV light.
 A possible option for your home would be to buy a reverse osmosis filter from HTGSupply.com.  This will remove some of the chloramine (no studies have tested how to remove it all)  The filters are expensive, but will get rid of most bad things in your water, save you the hassle of going out to buy water, using plastic jugs and if you are going to grow a long time and buy a lot of water it may pay for itself over time.

Good Growing,
Dr. E. R. Myers



susan said...

While there are no studies currently out regarding plants and pets with chloramine - just as there are none regarding acute health effects on humans, there IS an indication that both plants and animals are suffering from the use of chloramine. We have indications that cats, specifically develope kidney stones with more frequency and that dogs refuse to drink it. We are also hearing from plant growers that it stifles the growth of plants - we know it kills earthworms and other insects, frogs and aquatic life. Beer brewers are also having difficulty as the chloramine kills the yeast and damages the hops causing the beer to taste like cardboard. This is simply not a good idea for any living thing.

My name is Susan Pickford and I am the co-director of the Chloramine Information Center. We have been researching chloramine in drinking water systems for the past three years. While those are certainly urgent concerns the acute and long term health ramifications for the general population are much more dire.
Acute health concerns - Hundreds of people across the country are reporting respiratory, dermal and digestive ailments when drinking or showering in chloraminated water. Chloraminated water used to make baby formula can cause Blue Baby Syndrome. (That is right in the Water Quality Reports.) monochloramine speciates into di and tri chloramine. Tri chloramine is a known respiratory irritant known to cause 'swimmers asthma' in lifeguards and routine swimmers. The same effect is being seen when chloraminated water is vaporized in showers. I have personal stories from those who are suffering and other citizen groups have accumulated photos of the skin rashes.

Ineffective biocide - the World Health Organization has determined chloramine to be the least effective of the available disinfectants in killing e-coli, rotoviruses and polio 1. Germany has banned its use in their country. France will not use it and in fact most of Europe does not use it for this reason. In fact, the EPA banned chloramine in 1978 for one year because it was believed to be an ineffective biocide. Thirty years of research has concluded that it is indeed ineffective, yet the EPA continues to allow it.

Long term health concerns - While chloramine does indeed reduce the THMs and HAAs of chlorine, it creates its own new set of byproducts that are 100 to 10000 times MORE TOXIC than THMs and HAAs. These byproducts include NDMA, Hydrazine, DXAA and Iodo acids. THey are genotoxic (damage DNA), cytotoxic (damage cells) and carcinogenic. In fact the EPA has classified hydrazine and NDMA as 'probable human carcinogens' yet still allow the use of chloramine in drinking water.

Fish kills - we have documented massive fish kills across the US and in Canada as a result of main breaks in chloraminated areas. One killed 9 miles of creek down to the earthworm. In Canada, it killed thoussands of species of salmonids and invertibrates. In california, even when people use rain water to fill their backyard ponds, just using the sprinkler on their lawn killed the frogs in their ponds.

if you would like to talk to me - contact information is:


Anonymous said...

Chloramines are not as bad as you make them sound. Chloramines have been used in some large municipalities for over 30 years and have not had any major health concerns. Yes it is not a powerful as free chlorine but free chlorine does not last as long in the distribution system. So in large systems towards the outer parts of the system you will find no chlorine residual which can result in diseases in the water. For shower vapors chlorine and chloramine treated waters have the same effect on respiratory system. There are di-tri chloramines in water treated with free chlorine and most of the disinfection by products of free chlorine treatment vaporize at room temperature. So every time you take a shower, run your dishwasher or use warm water you are breathing those chemicals. So quit your fear mongering and report facts on both side of the spectrum. Both forms of disinfection have bad qualities about them so report both side accurately and let the reader decide.

Anonymous said...

Reverse Osmosis is not the most effective way to remove Chloramine. Actually it is a very poor way, common RO systems waste 3gallons of water for every output gallon.

I have a whole house filter system with multiple cannister/filter. The first removes sediments which is mostly rust in the city.

I recently added a Chloramine filter. The water tastes much better.

There are additional speciality filters if you feel a need for one. The only drawback can be a slight decrease in GPM. Now I have 2.0 instead of 2.5 GPM, I don't even notice it.