Effects of Chlorine in Water and How to Remove It

The municipal water distribution system, a modern miracle, would not be possible without chlorination or similar disinfectants. Chlorine destroys disease-producing organisms and prevents their proliferation by disrupting microbial DNA and RNA.  Another benefit is the improvement of water quality resulting from the reaction of chlorine with ammonia, iron, manganese and organic substances, allowing additional filtration and sedimentation processes to run smoothly.

Chlorine effects , Clorox: a very popular liquid chlorine bleach solution.

Clorox: a very popular liquid chlorine bleach solution.

The EPA has set a maximum residual disinfectant level (MRDL) for chlorine of 4 mg/L or ppm.  This is the enforceable level at which, according to the EPA, “no adverse health effects are likely to occur.”

Many consumers who wish to remove chlorine tastes and odors from their water do so not due to health issues, but because they feel de-chlorinated water tastes better, or is more pleasant to shower and bathe in.  However, chlorine can also be responsible for adverse health effects.

Some individuals experience allergic reactions to chlorinated water, including reddening of the skin, skin rashes, and other irritations.  Other effects include stomach aches and irritation of the eyes and/or nose.

Tastes and odors from phenols and other organic compounds that are in water can also be intensified after chlorination, and potentially carcinogenic chloro-organic compounds such as chloroform can also develop.  Such compounds are strictly regulated by USEPA standards.

Testing for chlorine can be done easily with any of our well water test kits.  Unlike some other contaminants, chlorine is best tested for at home
rather than in a lab, since it will likely dissipate out of the water in the time it takes the sample to reach the lab.

Carbon Backwash Filter, Chlorine effects

Carbon Backwash Filter

Chlorine can be removed by activated carbon and certain other catalytic media, although care must be taken to ensure that neither the device removing the chlorine nor the downstream piping becomes infected with bacteria.

In some states, such as California, systems that claim to remove chlorine must be certified, and the sale of such devices is strictly regulated.

We stock many carbon filters that will effectively remove chlorine from your water at a low cost and with little maintenance.  You can browse them in our online store.

For more info about chlorine as a disinfectant, consult our free guides:

About the Author Gerry Bulfin

Need help with your well water? I have been assisting homeowners, small communities and businesses improve their well water quality since 1989. Please email me at gbulfin@cleanwaterstore.com if you have a question about water testing, test kits or well water systems in general. Gerry Bulfin CWS-IV Master Water Specialist WQA Certified Licensed California Water Treatment Contractor