Understanding the Health Risks of Too Much Chlorine and Chloramine in Drinking Water

Chlorine and Chloramine in Drinking Water

No one wants to get salmonella, diarrhea, E. coli, dysentery, or other waterborne diseases. We’ve come a long way from that, right?

In many ways, yes. Government regulations now enforce public water supplies to monitor for bacteria and contamination like the examples mentioned, and then treat it appropriately.

However, it’s crucial to strike the right balance of chemical additives or else they may cause another kind of harm. Chlorine and chloramine are two common disinfectants used to kill harmful microorganisms in public water supplies.

While they are effective at maintaining water safety, excessive amounts of these chemicals pose health risks. In this article, we delve into the potential dangers of overexposure to chlorine and chloramine in drinking water and what you can do to protect your health.

What Are Chlorine and Chloramine?

Chlorine has been used for over a century as a disinfectant in public water systems. It effectively kills bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens, so that water remains safe to drink.

Chloramine is a compound made by combining chlorine and ammonia. it’s increasingly used as an alternative to chlorine because it remains in the water longer and produces fewer disinfection byproducts.

Potential Health Risks of Chlorine

While chlorine is effective at killing pathogens, overexposure can lead to several health issues

Respiratory Problems: Inhalation of chlorine vapors – which can happen while showering, cooking, or any activity where steam builds – can irritate the respiratory system, causing symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Long-term exposure may exacerbate conditions like asthma.

Skin and Eye Irritation: Chlorine can cause dryness and irritation to the skin and eyes. This is particularly concerning for individuals with sensitive skin or pre-existing skin conditions like eczema.

Digestive Issues: Consuming water with high levels of chlorine can irritate the gastrointestinal tract, leading to stomach discomfort, nausea, and vomiting.

Potential Carcinogenic Effects: Chlorine reacts with organic matter and water to form trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs). Some studies suggest that long-term exposure to these byproducts may increase the risk of cancer.

Potential Health Risks of Chloramine

Chloramine, wild producing fewer byproducts, also comes with its own set of risks:

  • Respiratory Issues: Similar to chlorine, chloramine can cause respiratory problems. Inhalation of chloramine vapors can irritate the lungs and airways, potentially leading to conditions like asthma.
  • Skin Sensitivity: Chlorine is known to cause skin irritation and rashes in some individuals, particularly those with sensitive skin or allergies.
  • Digestive Disturbances: Drinking water with high levels of chloramine can cause stomach discomfort, nausea, and cramps.
  • Kidney and Blood Disorders: Some research suggests that excessive chlorine exposure may contribute to kidney and blood disorders, particularly in individuals with compromised immune systems or pre-existing health conditions.

Comparing Chlorine and Chloramine

While both disinfectants are effective, their different properties lead to varied health impacts.

Chlorine is more volatile, which means it evaporates quickly and is more likely to cause respiratory issues through inhalation.

Chloramine remains in the water longer and is less volatile, reducing the risk of inhalation but increasing the potential for prolonged skin and digestive exposure.

How to Protect Yourself

  1. Regular Water Testing: The first step to making sure your water meets safety standards is water quality testing. Consistent, periodic water tests will keep you informed of changes to your water, including elevated levels of chlorine and chloramine. NH Tap offers comprehensive water testing services to help you monitor these levels.
  2. Water Filtration Systems: Installing a high-quality water filtration system can effectively reduce chlorine and chloramine levels. Carbon filters are particularly effective at removing these disinfectants from your water supply.
  3. Ventilation: Keeping your home well-ventilated, especially in areas where there’s more water vapor, such as bathrooms and kitchens, reduces the opportunity for inhaling chlorine and chloramine vapors.
  4. Skin Protection: Use moisturizers and emollients to protect your skin from dryness and irritation caused by chlorine and chloramine. Consider using shower filters to reduce exposure.
  5. Awareness and Education: Stay informed about the water treatment processes in your area. Understanding the methods used and their potential impacts can help you take proactive steps to protect your health.


While chlorine and chloramine are essential for maintaining the safety of public water supplies, it’s important to be aware of the potential health risks associated with overexposure. Regular water testing, effective filtration systems, and proactive measures help mitigate these risks, so your water remains safe to drink.

At NH Tap, we understand the importance of clean, safe drinking water. Our experts are dedicated to providing top-notch water testing and filtration solutions tailored to your needs. You don’t have to wonder about what’s in your water. Simply getting it tested will inform you whether you’re dealing with excessive chlorine and chloramine in your water supply.

Protect your health and enjoy pure water with NH Tap’s professional water testing and filtration services. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards cleaner, safer water in your home.

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