Chloramine controversy: Safe for Tulsa's water?

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A couple of readers have emailed to express their concerns about the imminent introduction of chloramine into Tulsa's water supply. I am only beginning to study the issue, and it seems there may be reason to worry.

Rather than make you wait until I've thoroughly researched the matter, I've decided to present the concerns expressed by one of these readers, with her permission. I would be glad to post knowledgeable answers to her questions and other points of view on this issue.

Jeanine Kinney made the following remarks at the October 4, 2011, City Council committee meeting:

CHLORAMINE

The Health Department's, the Water Department's and The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) are claiming that Chloramine is safe for all everyday uses, drinking, bathing & cooking et cetera. Yet, the EPA itself admits that it has no Respiratory, Digestive, Skin & Epidemiological studies on the Human Health effects of Chloraminated water. The limited Cancer studies on Chloraminated water are so few that they are considered inadequate for assessment. Even though these studies show some evidence that Chloramine itself is a carcinogen, NO determination can be made from those handful of studies. The fact is there are not enough scientific data to know if Chloraminated water is safe for any uses for Human Beings.

Thousands of people all over the country and even in other countries have reported severe and life threatening respiratory, digestive and skin symptoms whenever they are exposed to Chloraminted water. These people have proven by avoidance and re-exposure that the Chloraminted water is the culprit for their symptoms. They do not have these symptoms when they are NOT exposed to Choramine and as soon as they are re-exposed their symptoms return. These symptoms fall into exactly the "gaps" in the scientific data about Chloramine's safety and the Respiratory, Digestive and Skin studies that DO NOT exist.

In addition to the immediate health effects that people are reporting from Chloraminated water is the grave concern about the emerging science in the very little known Disinfection By Products (DBP's) of Chloramine. These DBP's are NOT yet regulated, but are turning out to be many magnitudes more toxic than those of Chlorine. (THM's & HAA's)

Finally, Chloramine is much more corrosive to plumbing, lead pipes, copper pipes with lead solder and brass plumbing fixtures, which contain lead. Lead is being leached into drinking water because of the corrosive effects of Chloramine on combinations of these metals. Sometimes the level of lead leached into the drinking water is extremely high. Children from Chloraminated water districts are showing high levels of lead in their blood. And for those of us concerned about our environment, Chloramine is much more toxic to fish, frogs, amphibians and to other aquatic life. Water main breaks with water disinfected with Chlorine rarely does any damage unless the level of Chlorine is extremely high. But with Chloramine, however, even small traces from breaks and leaks, as well as from people washing their cars or watering their lawns can wipe out fish, frogs and amphibians in nearby ponds, streams and lakes. WHY RISK OUR FRAGILE ENVIRONMENT IF THERE ARE BETTER ALTERNATIVES????? And there are alternatives that are safer like:

Enhanced Membrane Pre-Filtration OR

Combinations of Alternative Disinfectants & Disinfection Techniques OR

Mixing well water with surface water to dilute the DBP's (Disinfection By Products) OR

Air Stripping of the THM's (Trihalomethane's), to name a few!

In closing today, I really want to believe in my heart that each of you 9 City Councilors took your position on the City Council in order to help, protect and look out for the best interest of the people of Tulsa. I plead with you to help protect the health of Tulsa's water consumer's. Please oppose the use of Chloramine as it has not been studied for the very health effects that people all over the country and all over the world are reporting.

A week later, on October 11, 2011, Kinney was at another City Council committee meeting to attempt to get answers to her questions about chloramine:

There was a Tulsa City Council meeting, Tuesday, October 11, where discussion with the Deputy Director for the Public Works Department, Clayton Edwards, & City of Tulsa Ammonia (Chloramine) conversion project leader, Joan Arthur took place. There was not one member of the TUMA (Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority) Board present for discussion. The meeting was set regarding the postponing the implementation of using Chloramines in the Tulsa public water system. The following concerns were attempted at being discussed, however, the meeting was terminated after a couple were asked and still yet unanswered.

Numerous email's & phone calls have been received regarding input and interest in Tulsa's conversion to Chloramine. Chloramine is to be used as a secondary disinfectant for Tulsa water utility consumers and those in surrounding areas, who do and will, purchase water from the City of Tulsa.

You state that Tulsa thoroughly researched the potential impact of the Stage 2 D/DBP rules and the alternatives available to meet the new regulations, for the last ten years. I would like to know exactly what treatment processes were evaluated and why these processes's were ruled out?

You state that the byproducts in some parts of the city, are projected to exceed or be very close to Stage 2 DBP standards. What data are these projections based on? Which parts of Tulsa are "problem" areas and/or areas where the levels of byproducts are projected to exceed standard levels? By how much are these areas expected to exceed the standards?

You state that a small amount of ammonia will be added to the water. Yet, no one, not even the EPA, knows if even a small amount of ammonia is safe since there is NO data regarding how much ammonia is safe in drinking water.

You state Chloramine is less reactive in the distribution system. Yet chloramine, forms many disinfection by products that are much more toxic than the currently regulated, THMs and HAAs. Some examples include iodo acetic acid, NDMA'S and nitrogen containing DBPs, according to the journal AWWA, February 2001. (NDMA is a probable carcinogen)

Using chloramine as a residual does not "adequately" protect people from re-contamination due to water line breaks, road work, construction with water lines and home plumbing leaks. It is also a greater hazard to the environment. Water main breaches and run off into storm sewers, lakes or ponds, kills fish, frogs and other aquatic life.

Chloramine is much more toxic to aquatic life than an equal dose of Chlorine. The edition of even small amounts of Chloramine to aquariums or fish ponds quickly results in death for fish as well as frogs, amphibians and other organisms. This has never happened with Chlorine unless unusually high concentrations of Chlorine were present in the tap water.
You state that trihalomethanes are linked to bladder cancer. The data shows that it takes 70 years of chronic exposure to trihalomethanes, to see a 1.7% increase in the incidence of bladder cancer. Bladder cancer is the easiest type of cancer to treat and has the lowest mortality rate.

You state that the maximum residual disinfectant level (MRDL) of 4 mg/ L is approved by the EPA. However, the EPA based this MRDL on studies that are incomplete. The EPA simply substituted data for chlorine, to fill in the "gaps" in the studies on chloramine, since the studies on chloramine were never completed. The EPA has ASSUMED that chlorine and chloramine have similar health effects, but studies from OSHA and NIOSH, prove otherwise.

Chloramine is a much more potent respiratory and dermal irritant than chlorine. It has different chemical properties and reactivity than chlorine.

CHLORINE IS NOT LIKE CHLORAMINE.

You state that you will be monitoring the lead levels in the distribution system for one year. Will you test water samples in homes, apartments, office buildings, schools and other building's in and around Tulsa? And if so how many residences & building's will be tested? How frequently will they be tested & in what manner will they be tested? (When samples are collected, will you take a first draw? Or will your flush/run the water to clear out the pipes? Flushing can miss the lead that may be present in the water, due to chloramine's corrosive effects on plumbing that contains combinations of copper, lead and brass).

You state that chloraminated water is safe for all everyday uses. However, there are NO skin, respiratory or digestive studies nor is there any epidemiological data to prove that statement. It is in fact your opinion. You can verify that these studies DO NOT EXIST, by looking chloramine up in the IRIS, published by the EPA. The EPA DID NOT study the dermal, respiratory, ocular, and digestive effects of chlorimanated water. The limited cancer studies on chloraminated water are considered inadequate for assessment. There is some evidence that chloramine itself is a carcinogen but, we do not know for sure if it causes cancer, what type and at what levels.

The truth is, that there is not enough data to know if chloraminated water is safe for ANY uses, for human beings. Until those studies are done, NO ONE can say that chloraminated water is safe. No studies = WE DO NOT KNOW!

Finally,

You state that currently 30% of all municipal water treatment systems rely on chloramine disinfection and that chloramine has been used for over 90 years. Still, ONLY studies will prove if chloramine is harmful to human health!

You state that neighboring cities like Oklahoma City, Norman, Sand Springs, Lawton, Dallas, Fort Worth, Denver, and St. Louis have converted their water disinfection process over to Chloramine. That DOES NOT PROVE THAT CHLORAMINE IS SAFE!

There are numerous cases in Pennsylvania, California, Washington DC, North Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma, Dallas, Vermont, Massachusetts, Colorado, Maine, Arizona, Florida, Oregon, Colorado, in which citizens are reporting serious health effects as a direct result of using Chloraminated water for drinking, bathing, cooking and other everyday uses of their tap water.

Where is the data supporting the finding that the reported health effects from Chloramine are "isolated?" How do you know the similar symptoms have not occurred in any of the cities using Chloramine that Tulsa has contacted? Did you contact hospitals and clinics, to ask if there had been increased reports of skin, respiratory or digestive symptoms, since the addition of chloramine to their water? How many cities and how many consumer's and residents were contacted? Until you have that information, you DO NOT KNOW what effects Chloramine is having on those residents.

Please do not put Chloramine in our water at the expense of the health of Tulsan's. We are already going to be paying more for an unsafe disinfectant when we should be paying more for a safe alternative!

MORE:

The EPA collection of frequently asked questions about chloramine.

The website of Citizens Concerned About Chloramine (CCAC)

Wikipedia article on chloramine

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Tulsa's water authority is planning to replace chlorine with chloramine as primary disinfectant this coming February. In response to growing concern about the harmful effects of chloramine on people and plumbing, tomorrow, December 14, 2011, the Tulsa ... Read More

6 Comments

tulsapwemployee said:

Despite what our public officials will tell us, adding chloramine to our water supply poses more health risks than will be admitted.

A fellow employee of mine attended a water quality training session recently. (DEQ mandated). One of the trainers told the class that Tulsa's distribution infrastructure does not contain lead. The employee there basically started laughing and said, "I pull lead out of the ground almost everyday." (he's a backhoe operator)

Silence.

The main motivation for utilizing chloramine is NOT the same as the city's official position as indicated on their website. It is because chloramine is CHEAPER.

Don't play with our health, City of Tulsa.

come clean said:


If you have concern / questions about this type of conversion this Princeton lecture will answer any of them.
Marc Edwards gives this informative lecture on chloramine and the lead that did affect many people in Washington DC after their conversion.

The conversion is easy to do,the maintaining and the results of such a conversion are not so easy to resolve,trace back to the utility companies,a lot of cases get lost in not reporting,not connecting the dots,not going to clinincs & hospitals to see there are increased cases being seen due to this flammatory chemical being added to the water supply.

A 2 hour lecture, and worth every minute for anyone concerned about their water.


http://hulk03.princeton.edu:8080/WebMedia/lectures/

scroll down to this lecture:



May 4, 2006 - Public Lecture Series
Marc Edwards, Virginia Polytechnic Institute: "Imminent Endangerment: 'Lead' Astray by the EPA"
VideoNet 56K 350K 56K 350K

j.elohim said:

Check out chloramine.org/chloraminefacts.htm

Please read the info on the link.
There appears to be no reason to use chloramine, and many health and cost reasons to not use chloramine.

Ceasar said:

Seems a decision of this magnitude would not be left to a utility board to simply impose upon the people. And, remember, we've 40-year 'contracts' with many surrounding areas, so Tulsan's are not the only ones affected by this decision.

I also do recall a news story ('test release'?) a few months ago which I distinctly recall this being presented as only an overhead operational cost decision at that time.

...so, where's the study. Seems anytime our 'leaders' want to try and justify anything around here, they hire a firm from anywhere but Oklahoma to prop up the cause. Maybe the utility board simply wishes to impose it upon us and don't even feel they need frivolous support.

Laramie Hirsch said:

I wonder if Culligan water stations--or others--will have the ability to filter this crap out.

Our family began using Culligan water stations three years ago, as we were eager to flee the health effects of fluoride in the water. It is my understanding that the reverse osmosis process of these water stations removes fluoride. I wonder if the same processes will help to remove ammonia as well. (Concerning fluoride: if it is a topical substance to treat the teeth only, why should I apply it to the linings of my organs as well if I drink it?)

So, now we have fluoride, chlorine, and ammonia in our water. Almost seems as if the powers that be here in Tulsa don't like us!

Is there anyone here who knows WHAT can be done by us common folk to reverse this insane decision of our cheapskate city officials?

Bob said:

I am an attorney who will volunteer any spare time I have to work on getting rid of this stuff, in fact at least two of the three poisons mentioned above, and perhaps all three,ie, including chlorine, if that is possible.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 17, 2011 10:49 PM.

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