• Chloramine never proven safe
    October 06,2012
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    As chloramine replaces chlorine across the country, more and more people are reporting skin, respiratory and digestive symptoms. That includes hundreds in the Champlain Water District. The Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control, and Vermont Health Department and other state agencies and some Rutland officials are studiously ignoring that fact. They pooh-pooh this overwhelming “anecdotal evidence.” Note that the term “anecdotal” means “based on personal observation, case study reports, or random investigation.” Anecdotal information can be very valid and provides a solid basis for scientific study.

    EPA based safety thresholds for monochloramine in drinking water on studies for chlorine, not for chloramine. That is not OK. They are two different chemicals, with different ways of reacting to their environment. The human body appears to respond very differently to chloramine than to chlorine, evidenced by all the people across the country and in Vermont who are getting sick from chloramine, who did just fine with chlorine.

    Surrounding the black hole of no data on skin, respiratory, and digestive health effects from exposure to chloramine in tap water are lots of data on health effects from exposure to chloramine in higher doses in industry and doses that are much lower than levels in drinking water, like the levels of monochloramine produced in cells in the human body.

    These health effects are the same ones people are having to exposure to chloramine in their tap water. For instance, NIOSH and OSHA show that people exposed to chloramine in the workplace suffer from rashes and respiratory irritation.

    And now a couple of comments about the plumbing issue. It is common knowledge that chloramine disintegrates rubber gaskets and toilet flappers in indoor plumbing. This is not contested by anyone whose business it is to know. There are chloramine-resistant rubber parts being manufactured these days. It’s a new thing. How many homes in Rutland have those chloramine-resistant rubber parts in their plumbing systems? And who’s going to pay for them?

    A Fortune 500 company and developer, Shapell Industries, has filed a lawsuit against the water district of Moulton Niguel in Orange County, Florida. Shapell alleges that chloramine in the city water damaged the copper pipes, causing pinhole leaks in 400 homes in their development. (http://www.ocregister.com/news/water-340682-leaks-copper.html)

    Chloramine leaches lead from lead pipes, lead solder, and “lead-free” brass fittings, which can contain up to 8 percent lead. The official fix for that is to add another chemical to the water to coat the pipes so the chloramine won’t touch them. Given that human error is a part of life, why take the chance when you can use granular GAC to take care of your problem? Do a Google search on chloramine and lead in tap water. There’s a lot on that. Here’s just one: “Changes in Blood Lead Levels Associated with Use of Chloramines in Water Treatment Systems.” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1817676/)

    Remember, it’s beholden on the home owner to make sure there’s no lead in his water. The water treatment facility makes a few lead tests on public water every couple of years but does no testing in your home.

    Public officials, it is incumbent upon you to find data that prove chloramine is safe. But of course you can’t, because there is no data. The studies weren’t done. The EPA and CDC admit as much. The anecdotal evidence piling up on chloramine’s negative health effects is being ignored. Public officials are responsible for the health and safety of their community. Deciding to implement a solution that cannot be proven safe puts the community at risk and is unacceptable.

    Ellen Powell is a resident of South Burlington.
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