Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Chloramine From Drinking Water
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Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Chloramine From Water?

Chloramine is a compound commonly found in tap water that is used by water treatment facilities to disinfect the water supply. But what exactly is chloramine? Where is it found? And how does it affect our health?

In this article, we will explore the world of chloramine and its impact on our drinking water. We will also delve into the question of whether reverse osmosis can effectively remove chloramine from water.

Key Takeaways

  • Chloramine is a compound used to disinfect water supplies.
  • Reverse osmosis is an effective method to remove chloramine from drinking water.
  • There are alternative ways to remove chloramine, such as carbon filters.
  • It is important to consider factors such as installation, maintenance, and cost when choosing a chloramine water filter.

What Is Chloramine?

Chloramine is a chemical compound that is used as an alternative to chlorine for disinfecting water supplies. It is formed by combining chlorine and ammonia. While chlorine is effective in killing bacteria and other harmful microorganisms in water, it can also react with organic matter to produce potentially harmful byproducts. Chloramine, on the other hand, is more stable and less likely to produce these byproducts. However, it has its own drawbacks, particularly when it comes to the taste and odor of the water.

Where Is Chloramine Found?

Chloramine is commonly found in municipal water supplies. Many water treatment facilities across the country have switched from chlorine to chloramine as a disinfectant. This is done to comply with regulations and to provide a more stable and longer-lasting method of water treatment. The specific levels of chloramine in tap water can vary depending on the location and the treatment process used by the local water authorities.

How Does Chloramine Get Into A Home’s Water Supply?

Chloramine is a disinfectant used to treat drinking water, and it is formed by mixing chlorine with ammonia[5]. Chloramines are most commonly formed when ammonia is added to chlorine to treat drinking water. Chloramines provide longer-lasting disinfection as the water moves through pipes to consumers, and this type of disinfection is known as secondary disinfection. Chloramines have been used by water utilities since the 1930s, and more than one in five Americans uses drinking water treated with chloramines.

Chloramine is added to the water supply by the local water municipalities for the treatment of water at the disinfection site or plant[3]. However, not all water utilities use chloramine, and agencies make the decision on a case-by-case basis. When chloramine is added, it is less likely than chlorine to dissipate, so it stays in the water system longer, meaning it stays in your water supply at moderate levels when the water reaches the pipes in your home[3].

In summary, chloramine gets into a home’s water supply through the addition of ammonia to chlorine to treat drinking water at the disinfection site or plant. Chloramines provide longer-lasting disinfection as the water moves through pipes to consumers, and they are used by more than one in five Americans.

Impact Of Chloramine On Human Health

Chloramine is a disinfectant used to treat drinking water, and it is formed by mixing chlorine with ammonia. Chloramines are most commonly formed when ammonia is added to chlorine to treat drinking water. Chloramines provide longer-lasting disinfection as the water moves through pipes to consumers, and this type of disinfection is known as secondary disinfection.

However, there are concerns about the impact of chloramine on human health. Here are some of the potential health effects of chloramine:

– Irritation to eyes and nose: Some people who use water containing chloramine in excess of 4.0 mg/L may experience irritation to their eyes and nose.
– Respiratory problems: Chloramine can cause and aggravate respiratory problems. Chloramine fumes can cause an individual to become congested and cause sneezing, sinus congestion, coughing, choking, wheezing, shortness of breath, and asthma.
– Skin irritation: Chloramine can irritate the skin and eyes.
– Acute hemolytic anemia and methemoglobinemia: Chloramines in water are most concerning for kidney dialysis patients. If water that has not had chloramines removed is used in a kidney dialysis machine, the patient could experience acute hemolytic anemia and methemoglobinemia.
– Toxic disinfection byproducts: Research published in 2007 by Dr. Michael Plewa indicated that the disinfection byproducts (DBPs) created from the use of chloramine are much more toxic than the DBPs of chlorine. These new nitrogen-containing DBPs are currently not regulated by the EPA.

It is important to note that there aren’t any EPA studies to determine, officially, whether chloramine will adversely affect individual health. However, those individuals with extreme rashes and breathing problems know the answer without a study. At the time of this writing, the EPA says that there are no dermal or inhalant studies on chloramine used in drinking water. They also say that there are inadequate cancer studies on animals or humans.

Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Chloramine From Water?

Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Chloramine From Drinking Water?

Yes, reverse osmosis (RO) can remove chloramine from drinking water. While the reverse osmosis membrane alone technically does not remove chloramine, reverse osmosis systems are equipped with multiple pre-filters, and the carbon in these pre-filters is able to remove chloramine because of how slowly the reverse osmosis process works. Reverse osmosis purifies water one drop at a time, passing the water through a semi-permeable membrane capable of rejecting a host of contaminants like arsenic, salts, and boron. Reverse osmosis has a very slow rate of production, meaning that the carbon filters in front of the RO membrane have ample contact time with the water.

As discussed above, the stability of the chloramine compound is difficult to disrupt. Activated carbon can remove chloramines, but the flow rate must be slow. The more carbon filters before and after the RO membrane, the greater the reduction of chloramines in the water. Therefore, if you are seeking to remove chloramine from your drinking water, a reverse osmosis system is a great option.

How Reverse Osmosis Systems Work

Reverse osmosis systems are composed of different stages of filtration. The incoming water first goes through a pre-filter, which removes larger particles and sediment. Then, it passes through the reverse osmosis membrane, where contaminants like chloramine are removed. After that, the water goes through a post-filter, which helps to improve taste and remove any remaining impurities. The result is pure, clean drinking water.

Advantages and Disadvantages Of Using Reverse Osmosis

Advantages Of Using Reverse Osmosis

One of the main advantages of using reverse osmosis is its ability to remove a wide range of contaminants, including chloramine. Reverse osmosis systems are also relatively easy to install and require minimal maintenance. Additionally, they provide a constant supply of high-quality drinking water, eliminating the need for bottled water.

Disadvantages Of Using Reverse Osmosis

While reverse osmosis is highly effective in removing contaminants, it is important to note that the process also removes beneficial minerals from the water. This can result in water that is demineralized and potentially less healthy to drink in the long run. Additionally, reverse osmosis systems can be costly to purchase and maintain, and they may produce a significant amount of wastewater.

What Else Does Reverse Osmosis Remove?

In addition to chloramine, reverse osmosis systems can remove a wide range of contaminants from water. These include common pollutants such as chlorine, lead, mercury, arsenic, and fluoride. Reverse osmosis is also effective in removing bad tastes and odors from the water, resulting in a more pleasant drinking experience.

Alternative Ways To Remove Chloramine From Water

While reverse osmosis is an effective method to remove chloramine from water, it is not the only option. Another popular alternative is using carbon filters. Carbon filters are known for their ability to remove chlorine and chloramine from water, along with other organic compounds and impurities. These filters work by adsorbing the contaminants onto the surface of the carbon, leaving behind clean, purified water.

How To Know If Water Is Contaminated With Chloramine

If you are concerned about the presence of chloramine in your water, there are several ways to find out if it is present. One option is to contact your local water treatment facility and ask about the treatment methods used. They should be able to provide you with information regarding the presence of chloramine in the water supply. Another option is to use water testing kits, which are readily available in stores and online. These kits allow you to test the water yourself and determine if it contains chloramine or other contaminants.

How Much Chloramine Is Safe In Well Water?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chloramine levels up to 4 milligrams per liter (mg/L) or 4 parts per million (ppm) are considered safe in drinking water. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set the Maximum Residual Disinfectant Level (MRDL) for chloramines (measured as Cl2) at 4.0 mg/L.

Studies have shown that drinking water with 4 mg/L of chloramines does not cause any illness or long-term health effects. However, some people may be more sensitive to chloramine than others, and individuals who have health concerns should seek medical advice from their healthcare provider before contacting their local health department.

It is important to note that excessive exposure to chloramine can cause skin irritation, respiratory problems, and acute hemolytic anemia and methemoglobinemia in kidney dialysis patients. Therefore, it is recommended to disinfect a well and water supply system with a minimum concentration of chlorine in the well of 100 to 300 parts per million (ppm), depending on the need for disinfection.

Key Considerations When Choosing a Chloramine Water Filter

When selecting a water filter to remove chloramine, there are several key considerations to keep in mind:

Installation & Maintenance

Consider the ease of installation and the maintenance requirements of the water filter. Some systems may require professional installation, while others can be installed by homeowners. Additionally, check if the filter requires regular replacement of cartridges or other filter media.


Take into account the initial cost of purchasing the filter system, as well as any ongoing costs such as filter replacements. Evaluate the long-term cost-effectiveness of the system and consider any additional expenses, such as wastewater disposal for reverse osmosis systems.

Water Flow Rate

Consider the water flow rate of the filter system. Different filters have different flow rates, which can affect the amount of water available for use at any given time. Determine if the flow rate meets your household’s needs.

Physical Space Available

Before purchasing a water filter, measure the available space in your home to ensure that the system will fit comfortably. Some filters can be installed under the sink, while others require more space.

Customer Reviews

Lastly, read customer reviews and ratings to get an idea of the performance and reliability of the water filter. Reviews can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness and durability of the system.


In conclusion, reverse osmosis is an effective method to remove chloramine from drinking water. It can provide clean, pure water that is free from contaminants. However, it is important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of using reverse osmosis, as well as alternative methods such as carbon filters. Ultimately, the choice of water filter depends on individual preferences and needs. It is crucial to prioritize factors such as installation, maintenance, cost, and water flow rate when selecting a chloramine water filter. By choosing the right filtration system, you can ensure that you and your family have access to safe and great-tasting water.

FAQs – Does RO Remove Chloramine From Water

Q: Does reverse osmosis remove chloramine?

A: Yes, reverse osmosis is an effective method to remove chloramine from water.

Q: Are chloramines safe?

A: Chloramines are generally considered safe when present in drinking water at low levels. However, prolonged exposure to high levels of chloramines can have adverse health effects.

Q: What is the difference between chlorine and chloramine?

A: Chlorine and chloramine are both disinfectants used in water treatment. The main difference is that chlorine is a gas, while chloramine is a combination of chlorine and ammonia. Chloramine is used as an alternative to chlorine in some water treatment facilities.

Q: How does a reverse osmosis system remove chloramine?

A: Reverse osmosis systems use a semi-permeable membrane to remove impurities, including chloramine, from water. The membrane allows water molecules to pass through while blocking larger molecules, such as chloramine.

Q: What are the best water systems to remove chloramines?

A: Reverse osmosis systems and activated carbon filters are commonly used to remove chloramines from water. These systems are effective in reducing chloramine levels and improving water quality.

Q: Can chloramine be converted back to chlorine?

A: Yes, chloramine can be converted back to chlorine through a process called dechloramination. However, it is important to note that this process may not completely remove chloramine from the water.

Q: Is it necessary to remove chloramines from my water?

A: The decision to remove chloramines from water depends on personal preference and the specific circumstances. While chloramine is generally considered safe, some individuals may prefer to reduce their exposure to chloramines due to taste or odor concerns.

Q: What are the potential risks of exposure to chloramines?

A: Prolonged exposure to high levels of chloramines can cause skin and eye irritation. Some studies have also suggested a possible link between chloramine exposure and certain health issues, although more research is needed to establish conclusive evidence.

Q: How can I reduce chloramines in my tap water?

A: The best way to remove chloramines from tap water is by using a water filtration system, such as a reverse osmosis system or activated carbon filter. These systems are designed to effectively remove chloramines and other impurities.

Q: Is it common for city water to contain chloramines?

A: Yes, many water treatment facilities are using chloramine as a disinfectant instead of chlorine. As a result, tap water in some areas may contain chloramines. It is recommended to check with your local water utility to determine the specific disinfectant used in your water supply.


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