Health Information

Chloramine has a long, proven record as a safe and effective disinfection method for treating drinking water.

According to the EPA, chloraminated water is safe for all everyday uses, including drinking, bathing and cooking. It has 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 used chloramine for decades to treat their water.

In addition, the EPA recognizes chloramine as a safe disinfectant and an effective way to reduce the formation of disinfection byproducts (DBPs), which have been linked to certain forms of cancer.

Kidney Dialysis Patients

Chloramine, like chlorine, must be removed from the water before it can be used in kidney dialysis machines.

Kidney dialysis patients should contact their physician or local kidney dialysis center for guidance on modifications to dialysis machines and procedures. Medical centers that perform dialysis are responsible for purifying the water that enters the dialysis machines. Kidney dialysis centers received notifications in August 2011 and again in June 2012.

Kidney dialysis patients can still bathe, drink and cook with chloraminated water. The digestive process neutralizes the chloramines before they reach the bloodstream. It's only when water interacts directly in the blood stream, as in dialysis, that chloramines must be removed.

Health Concerns by Select Advocacy Groups

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.

Because a handful of concerns have been raised over the years by consumer advocacy groups regarding the health effects of chloramine consumption, the City of Tulsa wants to address these issues as openly as possible. In general:

  • No current information exists in medical literature linking chloramine in drinking or bathing water to health concerns raised.
  • There is the possibility that individuals have specific sensitivities to various chemicals in the environment; there is no evidence that health effects occur on the population level as a result of chlorine or chloramines.

Addressing Skin Irritation Concerns:

  • The prevalence of dermatitis (skin irritation) in the general population is 12¬†percent. Skin problems may be caused by multiple factors, including: soaps, detergent, environmental conditions and bacteria growing in hot water heaters when temperature is too low.
  • Monochloramine, the form of chloramine that is used as a disinfectant in Tulsa's water distribution system, has not been shown to be a cause or contribute to reported skin problems.
  • The Centers for Disease Control¬† (CDC)'s investigation of reports of monochloramine-related skin problems associated with drinking water use was unable to draw any conclusions about monochloramine and health effects.
  • Concerns expressed by individuals may be based on misinterpretation of chemistry and anecdotal health data available on the Internet for concentrated chemicals.

Addressing Inhalation Concerns:

  • Monochloramine is highly soluble and loss to evaporation is minimal, based on literature and primary research of third-party municipalities.
  • Swimming pools tend to have a higher load of ammonia from urine and sweat. Chlorine and trichloramine are potential irritants in improperly operated pools, especially indoor pools.
  • Concerns expressed by individuals may be based on misinterpretation of chemistry and anecdotal health data available on the internet for concentrated chemicals

As with any health issue, people with specific health concerns should discuss these with their doctors. Physicians may contact the City of Tulsa or the Tulsa City-County Health Department to discuss any public health concerns.

As always, the City of Tulsa will closely monitor its ongoing water treatment process and will continue to monitor ongoing research regarding the use of chloramines.