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Chloramine in the water, controversy in the air

December 10, 2009 |  3:40 pm
Water, water, everywhere, and every droplet stings.

That’s what Los Angeles resident and model Frances O'Hara says she learned when a rash broke out all over her face and body after showering. Ann M. Simmons writes in today’s Times about some Antelope Valley residents resisting a plan to start using chloramine to disinfect their water supply. It's part of a federal mandate to switch over from chlorine by 2014.

Chloramine comes with a few advantages: It's long-lasting, gets rid of germs more effectively and creates fewer nasty byproducts. It's regarded as harmless in drinking water for humans, but is toxic for fish and has to be filtered out of water used for dialysis patients. 

Here's a fact sheet from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission on chloramines and drinking water.

Thus far, nasty reactions to chloramine appear to be relatively rare. But if chloramine and you can't get along (and you can't leave your city to shower, as Denise Johnson-Kula did in Simmons' story), try using bottled water -- or get yourself a granular activated carbon filter.

-- Amina Khan