Chloramine Facts

New Jersey American Water uses chloramines to treat the water for customers in its Coastal and Raritan water systems to ensure that our drinking water continues to comply with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) drinking water standards.

The EPA imposed more stringent standards to reduce health risks associated with disinfection byproducts (DBP) in chlorinated water. These DBPs form when chlorine reacts with naturally-occurring organic materials, such as decomposing plant material, in the raw water. Since chloramine is not as reactive as chlorine with organic materials, it produces substantially lower concentrations of DBPs. In addition, chloramine is more effective at extending disinfection through the pipelines that distribute water to customers’ homes and businesses.

If you're a customer in the Raritan or Coastal Systems where chloramination is used in the treatment process, it means that your drinking water is disinfected with chloramine residual instead of free chlorine. Chloramination is a common disinfection process used by the water industry in which a small amount of ammonia in water is added to chlorine in water at the end of our treatment process. The EPA widely accepts chloramine as an effective treatment to prevent the waterborne transmission of parasites that are capable of causing sickness. For decades, cities across the United States and Canada have relied on chloramine to treat their drinking water.

Record of Safe, Proven Effectiveness

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency widely accepts chloramine as an effective treatment to prevent the waterborne transmission of parasites that are capable of causing sickness. Chloramine was first implemented in Denver in 1917, and today, one in five Americans receives drinking water from systems using chloramination. Other cities using this safe, effective disinfection process include:

  • Philadelphia
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Boston
  • San Francisco
  • Dallas
  • Indianapolis
  • St. Louis
  • Houston
  • Milwaukee
  • Minneapolis
  • Portland, OR
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Miami
  • San Diego

Source: American Water Works Association

In addition, New Jersey American Water brings over 30 years of experience using chloramine to treat water in its Raritan System , which serves customers in Mercer, Somerset, Middlesex and Union Counties, and since June 2012 in its Coastal System , which serves customers in Monmouth and Ocean Counties, except for customers in Howell Township, Lakewood, Freehold Township and Farmingdale (Note: there are a handful of customers who do receive chloraminated water in Farmingdale).

While most customers do not notice any change in their water, some might notice that the taste and odor of chlorine is reduced. Please note that two groups of customers need to take special precautions: kidney dialysis patients and fish owners. For more information, see our Precautions for Dialysis Patients and Fish Owners below.

Precautions for Kidney Dialysis Patients and Fish Owners

Although the use of chloramine is proven to be safe, kidney dialysis patients and fish owners must take special care not to use water directly from the tap. As with chlorine, chloramine must be removed from water that is used in the kidney dialysis process and from water that is used in fish tanks or ponds. Please follow these precautions:

Kidney Dialysis Patients

  • In the dialysis process, water comes in direct contact with the bloodstream. Just like chlorine, the presence of chloramine in dialysis water would be toxic and must be removed.
  • Dialysis systems already pre-treat their source water to remove chlorine. However, some modifications might be necessary to remove chloramines. Consult your dialysis provider or health care practitioner for more information on your particular treatment need.
  • Medical facilities that perform dialysis are responsible for purifying the water, which enters the dialysis machines. Consult your physician if you have any questions.
  • Although New Jersey American Water has notified the region’s medical facilities, you should remind your physician of the switch to chloramine.
  • If you use a home dialysis machine, check with your physician. Many home dialysis service companies are able to make any necessary modifications if they are needed.
  • Kidney dialysis patients can drink, cook and bathe in water treated with chloramine. Chloraminated water can be consumed because the digestive process neutralizes the chloramine before it reaches the bloodstream. Please consult your physician if you have any questions. For more information, customers can also visit the EPA’s website.

Fish Owners

  • Both chlorine and chloramines are toxic in very low levels and must be removed from the water used for aquatic life. Most pet stores sell disinfectant-removal products that can be added to the tap water prior to introduction to the fish tank or pond.
  • Consult your local pet supply store for specific assistance on recommended products.
  • Chloramine is a very stable disinfectant and will remain in water for weeks. You are advised to remove chloramines from any water used for fish or aquatic life. This approach will provide maximum protection for your pets.
  • More information for fish, amphibian and fish pond owners.

Chloramine is safe for all mammals – including dogs, cats -- as well as birds. More information for fish, amphibian and fish pond owners.