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Letters, Official CCAC Correspondence

July 3, 2007

Rep. Anna Eshoo
US House of Representatives
698 Emerson Street
Palo Alto, CA 94301-1609

RE: Response to letter from Alexis Strauss, Director, Water Division, U.S. EPA Region IX

Dear Rep. Eshoo,

Citizens Concerned about Chloramine (CCAC) was formed to support the efforts of the hundreds of Bay-area residents who, because of health impacts suffered since the introduction of chloraminated water, cannot use their tap water for cooking, drinking, and especially bathing/showering, and running household appliances like dishwashers. For these individuals using bottled spring water or other non-chloraminated water sources is an extreme hardship. While anyone concerned about exposure to chlorine and its disinfectant byproducts can easily and inexpensively install sink filtration to remove them, such is not the case for chloramine. The irritant cannot be effectively filtered out.

CCAC was forwarded the above-referenced letter from a constituent of Rep. Eshoo's, who received it in response to a letter she sent Rep. Eshoo regarding chloramine. CCAC would like to address, and raise concerns about, several points made in this letter (copy attached).

1. Paragraph 2, last sentence, which states, "...no waivers from the requirements for disinfection are allowed."

CCAC is not asking for a blanket waiver of the requirements for disinfection. Rather we are seeking a waiver, if necessary, for our water system if a switch to chlorine would mean the system (or parts of it) is not in compliance with current EPA regulations regarding certain disinfection byproducts. This would allow a return to the use of chlorination instead of chloramination while health studies on skin, respiratory, and digestive effects of chloramine are pursued and conducted. We note that in the past, the EPA has granted such waivers when systems that had switched to chloramine experienced system problems and needed to switch back to chlorination for a period of time.

2. Paragraph 3, second sentence, which states, "They [chloramines]... produce very low levels of by-products."

Chloramine only produces low levels of the regulated DBPs (THMs and HAAs) but produces much higher levels of other DBPs such as NDMA (a known carcinogen), cyanogen chloride, and thousands of other known and unknown by-products. Dr. Michael J. Plewa, an EPA-funded research scientist at the University of Illinois, has identified and studied numerous new DBPs created by chloramines that are many magnitudes more toxic than the currently regulated DBPs. These chloramine DBPs are definite carcinogens, not just possible ones like THMs and HAAs. They also have other serious adverse health effects, like DNA damage, etc. (See Dr. Michael Plewa's research attached.)

3. Paragraph 3, last sentence, which says, "EPA regulates chloramine and other disinfectants primarily as precursors to disinfection by-product formation, rather than as individual toxicants."

To CCAC it is unconscionable to put into the water supply a chemical whose toxicity is unknown, and that causes immediate, serious, and in some cases, life threatening, health effects. This policy needs to be changed because the toxicity of a chemical that is added to a water system can be a much more significant health threat than the DBPs the EPA is currently focusing on. The health effects people are experiencing now should be a red flag. Further, if the EPA considers by-product formation first, why are they recommending replacing a disinfectant whose DBPs are known with a disinfectant whose DBPs are barely known?

4. Paragraph 4, sentence 2, which says, "We are not aware of studies suggesting skin and inhalation problems resulting from exposure to monochloramine at levels used for drinking water treatment."

This is because there are no such studies. This has been independently confirmed by the North Coast County Water District (NCCWD), the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency (BAWSCA), California Assembly member Ira Ruskin and his staff, and others, including the EPA itself. (See EPA "Drinking Water Criteria Document for Chloramine" attached.)

5. Paragraph 4, sentence 3, which says, "These chemicals [chloramines] have been extensively tested for their safety."

Only monochloramine has been studied, not dichloramine or trichloramine, and then, only for the formation of the DBPs THMs and HAAs. See above comment noting the absence of studies.

6. Paragraph 4, sentences 4 and 5, which say, "Toxicity studies of chlorine and chloramine exposures to test animals... have been conducted. The data do not show dermal, immunological, developmental, neurological, or other adverse health effects at the normal levels found in treated drinking water."

Dermal studies have never been done. Inhalent data referred to in the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) studies are "not available". No digestive studies that include food exposure to chloramine have been done. On the other hand, the IRIS studies do show that female rats exposed to chloraminated drinking water develop mononuclear cell leukemia. Furthermore, the animals in these studies avoided drinking chloraminated water as much as possible and to the point that it caused severe weight loss. None of these studies were long term and the EPA considers them inadequate for their assessment on carcinogenicity. These are the only studies that have ever been done on the toxicity of chloramines.

7. Paragraph 4, sentences 6 and 7, which say, "Epidemiology studies on human populations that have evaluated the health effects associated with chloramine exposures have also been conducted. Again, the data to not show any adverse health effects."

The EPA itself says, "There are no epidemiologic studies that have been designed to address specifically the potential adverse effects of exposure to chloramines on human health." (Drinking Water Criteria Document for Chloramine, EPA, March 1994) There is one epidemiological study by Zierler et al, "Type of Disinfectant in Drinking Water and Patterns of Mortality in Massachusetts", that was designed to determine whether the DBPs of chlorine caused an increase in cancer after long-term exposure. It compared two cities in Massachusetts. One used chlorine and one used chloramine for disinfection. The city using chloramine, which was considered the control, had an increase in deaths from influenza and pneumonia, an unexpected finding. Asthma and other respiratory illnesses were not evaluated. There was no follow-up to this study.

8. Paragraph 4, last sentence, which says, "These and other relevant studies are listed in the references and public docket... and summarized at http://www.epa.gov/iris."

These are the same IRIS studies mentioned above that are incomplete and inadequate, according the EPA itself.

9. Paragraph 5, sentence 1, which says, "It is important when considering any possible health effects to understand the specific assortment of chloramines produced under the different situations in which chloramines are used."

CCAC couldn't agree more, and specifically, we are concerned about the chemistry of chloramines in indoor plumbing and at point of use where the consumer is actually exposed to chloraminated water. See Dr. Marc Edwards' report, "Imminent Endangerment, 'Lead' Astray by the EPA", May 4, 2006. Many factors affect the "specific assortments of chloramines produced" at point of use such as temperature of water, turbulence or aerosolization, small indoor air spaces where water vapor accumulates, and pH changes due to galvanic corrosion reactions in home plumbing. None of these factors have sufficiently been investigated. Water utilities concern themselves with what is going on only in the water distribution system, not at point of use. And even then, they do not have sufficient understanding of chloramine chemistry issues in different water sources and in lengthy distribution systems. See report "EPA Limits Implicated in Eye Infections". This report shows increases in acanthamoeba keratitis corneal infections related to the switch to chloramines to comply with the EPA Stage 1 Disinfectants/Disinfection By-products Rule. This infection can lead to blindness.

10. Paragraph 5, sentence 2, which reads, "Millions of people have consumed chloraminated drinking water for years."

The number of years something is used does not prove its safety. Millions of people have been exposed to many substances in the past for years before the toxicity of those substances were determined, such as asbestos, lead, etc., and even DBPs formed with chlorine.

11. Paragraph 5, sentences 6 and 7, which say, "These chloramines are of different types than the monochloramine found in drinking water. Also, swimming pool water... contains... other... materials that may contribute to these effects."

According to the Belgian study "Lung hyperpermeability and asthma prevalence in schoolchildren: unexpected associations with the attendance at indoor chlorinated swimming pools", the chloramines found in swimming pools are the same chloramines that are found in drinking water (mono, di, and tri). The particular species formed in swimming pools and showers depend on the same circumstances such as temperature, turbulence, pH, chlorine-to-ammonia ratio, and the build-up of gases in the indoor air. This study shows that other materials that are present in the pool water are not relevant.

12. Paragraph 5, sentence 8, which says, "... levels of these chloramines [in pools] are substantially higher than those found in drinking water."

No one has studied what happens at point of use where chloraminated water is heated, aerosolized, vented as steam from dishwashers, dryers and humidifiers, boiling on the stove, etc. No one knows how much of these gases accumulate in shower stalls, small rooms or indoor air spaces, and what species of chloramines people are breathing in on an ongoing basis. Also relevant to chloramine chemistry is the galvanic corrosion effect of indoor plumbing, where the pH of the water can be lowered drastically, causing di- and trichloramine to be present. The statement in the EPA letter seems to be wholly unsubstantiated.

13. In reference to the last sentence in paragraph 5, CCAC has heard numerous complaints from people who cannot use their spas, indoor or out, since the addition of chloramines to our water because of the extremely irritating respiratory and dermal effects they experience (even worse than when they shower in chloraminated water). This can be explained by the increase in temperature and turbulence (from jet sprays) in these spas, which lead to a substantial increase in the production of di- and trichloramines.

The chemistry of chloramine is very complex, much more complex than the chemistry of simple chlorine. For this reason, this issue requires a great deal more study. Currently, little is known about the health effects, short and long term, of chloraminated water. Until the effects of chloramine are thoroughly studied for all its uses, not just drinking water, CCAC strongly recommends that it be removed from our water supply, with a temporary return to the use of just chlorine until a safer alternative can be found. This would truly fulfill the intention of the Precautionary Principal, which says, "When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. In this context the proponents of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof."

The City of San Francisco voted the Precautionary Principle into law. In the case of the SFPUC's choice of the use of chloramine, have they really fulfilled their duty as it relates to the Precautionary Principle? CCAC has documentation of hundreds of people suffering harm from the use of chloraminated water. Many have established cause and effect between chloraminated water and their symptoms. (See www.www.rouxingpingmu.cn for more details.) For some individuals, continued exposure to chloraminated water represents a serious and imminent threat to their health and even life. The burden of proof should not rest on the suffering public.

CCAC would be very grateful for any support you can offer us on this issue.

Sincerely Yours,

Citizens Concerned About Chloramine
946 Florence Lane Ste. #4
Menlo Park, CA 94025

    President, Denise Johnson-Kula
    Vice President, Linda Corwin
    Treasurer, Bruce Dronek
    Secretary, Gregory Kula


75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94106-3801

May 23, 2007

The Honorable Anna G. Eshoo, Member of Congress
U.S. House of Representatives
District Office
689 Emerson Street
Palo Alto, CA 94301-1609

Dear Congresswoman Eshoo:

Thank you for your letter of May 11, 2007, to Wayne Nastri, EPA Region 9 Administrator, forwarding letters of concern regarding the use of chloramines in drinking water. You asked for consideration of an EPA waiver for the use of chloramines in drinking water, on behalf of two constituents who believe chloramines may have caused skin irritation and respiratory problems. Mr. Nastri has asked me to respond to your letter given our oversight responsibility for drinking water activities in the State of California.

The Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1986 required EPA to set regulations for disinfection and filtration of drinking water from surface water sources, because water from lakes, rivers and reservoirs are vulnerable to contamination by pathogenic microorganisms. These regulations were promulgated under the Surface Water Treatment Rule in 1989 and enhanced in 1998 and 2000. Due to the high risk of contamination, no waivers from the requirement for disinfection are allowed.

Chloramines are specifically used as disinfectants to ensure drinking water is kept free of microorganism contamination through its transport from the treatment plant to the consumer. They remain effective for many days, yet produce very low levels of byproducts. The use of chloramines and other chemicals used for disinfection is regulated by EPA under the Disinfectants and Disinfection Byproducts Rules of 1998 and 2006. EPA regulates chloramines and other disinfectants primarily as precursors to disinfection byproduct formation, rather than as individual toxicants.

For drinking water treatment, the predominant chloramine used is monochloramine, formed from the reaction of chlorine with ammonia. We are not aware of studies suggesting skin and inhalation problems resulting from exposure to monochloramine at levels used for drinking water treatment. These chemicals have been extensively tested for their safety. Toxicity studies of chlorine and chloramine exposures to test animals at substantially higher levels (approximately 500 times the exposure in drinking water) have been conducted. The data do not show dermal, immunological, developmental, neurological or other adverse health effects at the normal levels found in treated drinking water. Epidemiology studies on human populations that have evaluated the health effects associated with chloramine exposures have also been conducted. Again, the data do not show any adverse health effects. These and other relevant studies are listed in the references and public docket for the Stage 1 Disinfectant/Disinfection Byproducts Rule (63 FR 69460-63, December 16, 1998) and summarized at http://www.epa.gov/iris.

It is important when considering any possible health effects to understand the specific assortment of chloramines produced under the different situations in which chloramines are used. Millions of people have consumed chloraminated drinking water for years. Chlorination is routinely used for swimming pools, spas and water parks to disinfect water for recreational activities. Reports of eye and skin irritation from exposure to chlorinated water in swimming pools, spas and water parks are common. These are typically attributed to chloramines formed from the reaction of chlorine with urea and other nitrogen-containing biological products that may be in these waters. These chloramines are of different types than the monochloramine found in drinking water. Also, swimming pool water typically contains high levels of other salts and organic materials that may contribute to these effects. As these waters are typically recirculated, levels of these chloramines are substantially higher than those found in drinking water. References to these chloramines are contained in most swimming pool and spa maintenance guides, and on the Center for Disease Control website at http://www.cdc.gov.

We hope this letter provides you with helpful information. Should you or your staff have any questions or would like to discuss the matter further, please call me at (415) 972-3572 or Jim Vreeland, our Congressional Liaison, at (415) 947-2498.

Sincerely yours,

Alexis Strauss, Director
Water Division

Letters, San Francisco Bay Area

San Mateo County Times
March 7, 2007

Chloramine causing ill effects

THANK YOU FOR YOUR ARTICLE on Feb. 27, 2007 "Is additive to water really safe?"

Ever since the addition of chloramine in our water, my skin is dry and itchy and I have not been getting enough sleep because I need to continually scratch my face, neck and body.

I have found that when I take baths or showers and/or wash dishes or clean my sinks and bathtub or boil water, my nose runs profusely because of the effects of the vapor. I can no longer use my hot tub either. I have been blowing my nose and I have never had symptoms like these before. I have no allergies and I am healthy.

My lips have become dry and chapped which resulted in peeling and bleeding. That has disappeared since I have been drinking and cooking only with bottled natural spring water.

These are the short term effects and I don't want to know what the long term effects could be. I am hoping that they remove chloramine ASAP and use a safer and tested alternative. Something needs to be done. I know of many other people having even worse symptoms.

Jan Frederiksen

San Mateo County Times
March 6, 2007

Get chloramine out of water supply

I JUST RETURNED from vacation and read the article by Aaron Kinney published in the Feb. 27 edition regarding the chloramine issue. This is a well researched article that reveals the widespread problems that are occurring when chloramine is added to municipal tap water and the woeful lack of "national or state studies" on the human health effects of chloraminated water.

Please support Assemblymember Ira Ruskin's bill, so that studies can be done on the health effects of chloramine. To learn more, please log on to http://www.www.rouxingpingmu.cn.

Linda Corwin

Mountain View Voice
March 2, 2007

Chloramine bill a good idea


Thank you for the excellent Feb. 9 article regarding Assemblyman Ira Ruskin's proposed bill to study the effects of chloramine in the local water supply ("Local legislator seeks study on chloramine"). Your article helped me focus on the severe, unrelenting skin rashes covering most of my body, which heretofore have defied explanation.

After reading your article, I contacted the Citizens Concerned About Chloramine (CCAC) and received a great deal of information about isolating the cause of my skin problems and tips on dealing with them. The rapid improvement in my condition convinces me that chloramine in my tap water is the major contributor to these problems.

I am grateful for being made aware of the excellent work being done by the CCAC, and I totally support the effort by Assemblyman Ruskin to have the state study the chloramine issue. The Voice has done me a great service by making me aware of this issue.

George Popaduk
Los Altos

Mountain View Voice
March 2, 2007

Hundreds have chloramine symptoms


Thanks for your Feb. 9 coverage of the chloramine issue. Citizens Concerned About Chloramine has heard from over 400 people in the Bay Area who believe that their skin, respiratory and/or gastrointestinal problems are caused by chloramine in Hetch Hetchy tap water, and that these problems abate when exposure to Hetch Hetchy tap water is avoided.

CCAC has also heard from hundreds more in other parts of the U.S. See www.www.rouxingpingmu.cn for further information.

Jeff Hoel
Palo Alto

The Almanac
January 24, 2007

Contact Ruskin with chloramine information


Thank you for your Dec. 27 coverage of the chloramine issue and the two letters following it.

Our local health department and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission have turned a deaf ear to people's suffering and the public outcry on the use of chloramines in our water system. Chloramine has not been properly studied for health effects such as skin and respiratory problems.

We need to work with Assemblyman Ira Ruskin, D-Redwood City, and other legislators to get chloramine removed from the water.

Mr. Ruskin plans to introduce a bill to do so as well as have testing completed. Anyone having symptoms from chloramine or who is concerned about damage to their plumbing and the environment should contact Mr. Ruskin at 5050 El Camino Real, Suite 117, Los Altos, CA 94022. The phone number is (650) 691-2121.

To learn more about chloramine's effects on health, the environment and plumbing, see www.www.rouxingpingmu.cn.

Rita Solk
Tioga Drive, Menlo Park

The Almanac
January 10, 2007

More to say on chloramine issue


Thank you for the Dec. 27 article on chloramine.

I would like to address the statement by Tony Winnicker, spokesman of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, who said: "It wouldn't be productive or a good use of anyone's time to meet again [with Citizens Concerned About Chloramine] about the exact same issues and exact same thing when there's no new information on either side."

We are insulted by this statement.

There is information on our side that the commissioners have never heard in the first place. In fact, they have never heard a presentation from CCAC where we can share important peer-reviewed scientific data that we have gathered. One-minute comments "from the public" do not suffice.

Our group sent a letter in July to the PUC requesting a time to present our information to the commissioners. They never responded. The next and only letter we received was dated Dec. 5, 2006. There was nothing in there acknowledging our request. Instead, it was the same old "chloramine is great" story.

Board members from two of the major water districts in the area have sat down with us in meetings, listened to our presentation, and were happy to receive and read the very important material we have found. As a result, both the NCCWD (in Pacifica) and (the regional) BAWSCA members are much more informed about chloramine than the commissioners of the SFPUC.

It is clear from Mr. Winnicker's statement that the SFPUC is afraid of the information we have to offer. If they learn what we know, they will have to take some kind of action on the chloramine situation in the Hetch Hetchy water system, something they are loathe to do.

The SFPUC may keep its head in the sand and try to keep everybody else's there as well, by attempting to control what the public does and does not hear about chloramine. It would be nice to have equal time with other agencies to make our presentation to the commissioners on our scientific data and its implications.

Hundreds of us have established a clear-cut cause and effect between our symptoms and chloraminated water by using water that is free of chloramine. This is an inconvenient fact that the SFPUC consistently tries to deny. It could be easily and inexpensively established that our symptoms are due to chloraminated water if the San Francisco Department of Public Health was willing to do a simple cause-and-effect evaluation of its own, instead of spending $100,000 of taxpayers' money on propaganda.

We are not going away. To learn more, visit www.www.rouxingpingmu.cn

Denise Johnson-Kula
President, Citizens Concerned About Chloramine
Florence Lane, Menlo Park

The Almanac
January 10, 2007

Chloramine meetings handled poorly


Thank you for your Dec. 27 article on chloramine.

I attended the November meeting of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and the October meeting of the city's public health department in Andrew DeGraca's office and was appalled at the way the meetings were handled.

The public and members of CCAC gave a lot of feedback to Mr. DeGraca and June Weintraub from the health department, which was ignored when they did their presentation at the Nov. 14 SFPUC meeting.

There were about 18 people at the Oct. 31 meeting, many who told them how they had established cause and effect between symptoms and chloraminated water. Several of them had doctors' documentations linking their symptoms (skin, respiratory and/or digestive) to the chloraminated water.

People who use chloramine-free water find that their symptoms are completely gone. It was suggested that the public health department could do a preliminary investigation into the cause and effects of exposure to the chloramine. Ms. Weintraub was completely opposed to any kind of investigation of cause and effect. Nor did she want to ask doctors to report whether there were any increases in skin, respiratory or digestive symptoms since chloramine was introduced in our water in February 2004. Ms. Weintraub wouldn't even consider asking the EPA or an independent agency, such as a university, to conduct any studies. She maintained that chloramine was safe in spite of the fact that no studies have been done on these effects.

I am concerned about all of the health effects that hundreds (probably more) people, including myself, are having to suffer through. No one at the S.F. Health Department or the SFPUC seems to want to do anything about this. They just spent $100,000 to cover this issue up.

We need help. Assemblyman Ira Ruskin is looking into a bill to get chloramine out of our water. Please contact his office at 650-691-2121. See www.www.rouxingpingmu.cn for more information.

Jan Frederiksen
Notre Dame Avenue

November 22, 2006

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
Mr. Richard Sklar, President
1155 Market Street, 11th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103

Dear Mr. Sklar;

CCAC would like to make a presentation on chloramine to you and the commissioners at one of the regularly scheduled SFPUC meetings. It would be beneficial to do this at your earliest convenience. We would like to cover some research and information not mentioned at the November 14th, 2006, SFPUC meeting and its implications on human health and the environment: Specifically the skin, respiratory, and digestive complications and the impact of chloramine on aquatic life in the environment.

We were disappointed that the November 14th meeting offered very little opportunity to discuss these issues. As you recall, in July of this year CCAC sent a similar letter to you after the SFPUC meeting on July 25, 2006, where you specifically questioned Mr.Carlin about testing of chloraminated water on human health. We have still not received a response to that letter. If Ms Leal has sent any CCAC members a response to that letter, would she please send copies of her response to CCAC at 946 Florence Lane, Suite #4, Menlo Park, CA. 94025, ATTN: Denise Johnson-Kula?

As you may know, the North Coast County Water Department (NCCWD) and the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency (BAWSCA) each met with CCAC representatives. These meetings were very productive. One or two minutes of public comment time are not sufficient to properly cover such a complex issue.

We are dismayed that none of our comments or ideas from the October 31, 2006 meeting were incorporated into the presentation by Andrew DeGraca and June Weintraub on November 14th. The $100,000.00 spent on a report that didn't answer the question put to the staff would have been better spent initiating the research projects listed below which were brought up by CCAC at the October 31st meeting:

1. The Public Health Department could look at asthma statistics occurring in cities using chloramine vs. those using other disinfection modes;
2. The Public Health Department could compare asthma statistics before and after chloramination conversion;
3. The Public Health Department could expand the seventeen person survey to the over four hundred people reporting adverse health effects from chloramine on the Hetch Hetchy Water System alone. This survey should include respiratory and digestive symptoms in addition to the skin symptoms.
4. The SFPUC and the Public Health Department have the clout to ask the EPA and/or an independent agency such as a university to conduct the necessary studies.

In addition, we were astounded that the SFPUC was still recommending Vitamin C showerhead filters that the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) does not certify. Furthermore, several CCAC members stated at the October 31st meeting that they had tried these Vitamin C showerhead filters with no effect and had them tested by their water department, proving that even when new they removed insignificant amounts of chloramine (25% or less). Their efficiency quickly declines to 0% after continued use. Other CCAC members have tried Vitamin C powder in their bath water and found it ineffective as well.

Finally, the idea that people should squeeze lemons into pitchers of tap water to neutralize the chloramine in the water so that it can be used for cooking and bathing is ridiculous and impractical. (Imagine lemon flavored coffee.) How does one know how much fruit to put in the water and how long to let it sit to get complete neutralization of the chloramine? For those who are sensitive, it is safer and more practical to use bottled spring water.

It was our understanding that the "Study of Studies" was to report on whether the commission found any reports on skin or respiratory studies or completed cancer studies on chloraminated water. None of this was even mentioned at the November 14th SFPUC meeting. Without such studies having been conducted, it is impossible to maintain the position that chloramine is not causing the health effects reported in the exposed population.

CCAC now has over four hundred documented cases of skin, respiratory and digestive symptoms from the Hetch Hetchy Water System alone. We are also hearing from many other states across the nation where people are having the same health effects from chloramine in their water supplies. So far we have heard from Vermont which has a group of over 80 people called People Concerned About Chloramine, New York, Washington, DC, Pennsylvania, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Colorado and Hawaii (where an active group is studying the adverse effects of chloramine on plumbing) as well as several areas in California outside of the Hetch Hetchy Water System that are using chloramine. A group in Scotland has taken a petition to their Parliament requesting redress from the adverse health symptoms they are experiencing after their water was chloraminated.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We are looking forward to your timely response to this letter.


Denise Johnson-Kula
President, Citizens Concerned About Chloramine

Linda Corwin,
Vice President, Citizens Concerned About Chloramine

Bruce Dronek,
Treasurer, Citizens Concerned About Chloramine

Gregory Kula,
Secretary, Citizens Concerned About Chloramine

Susan Leal, General Manager, SFPUC
Ryan Brooks, Vice President, SFPUC
E. Dennis Normandy, Commissioner, SFPUC
Ann Moller Caen, Commissioner, SFPUC
Adam Werbach, Commissioner, SFPUC

Gavin Newsom, Mayor, San Francisco
Aaron Peskin, President, San Francisco Board of Supervisors

Art Jensen, General Manager, BAWSCA

Leland Yee, California State Senator elect
Jackie Speier, California State Senator
Carole Migden, California State Senator
Joe Simitian, California State Senator
Mark Leno, California State Assembly Member
Ira Ruskin, California State Assembly Member
Gene Mullin, California State Assembly Member
Sally Lieber, California State Assembly Member

San Francisco Examiner
November 11, 2006

Those chloramines

Re: "Residents: Additive chloramines a health concern," by Tara Ramroop, Nov. 1.

The first subtitle written, "Officials cite lack of proof water disinfectant is harmful," should be corrected to read: "Officials can find no studies that show chloramine disinfectant is safe for people to use." They have proof that it is harmful. Doesn't it seem hard to believe that someone in charge of your water does not know if what's put into it will be safe for the public?

Bruce Dronek
San Jose, CA

The Almanac
May 31, 2006

Article on water raises big questions


Renee Batti's May 17th article, "How's the water" about the water disinfectant, chloramine, in tap water is thought-provoking.

How is it that people are not able to connect the water with their symptoms--skin, respiratory, or digestive?" The answer is simple-they can't believe that a public agency would put a toxin into their water!

Isn't water a necessity of life? It is incredible to think that the "responsible" public agents did not have the foresight to investigate chloramine's effects on human health. Yes, they did think of the fish, the plumbing, and the dialysis patients but assumed that it was safe for people.

It was a shock to those affected that the water was causing the rashes, welts, chapping. blistering, cracking of skin, severe asthma-like respiratory reactions, coughing and congestion, and the IBS-like digestive symptoms.

Doctors can't make the connection between the symptoms and the water because there are no health studies to back up their claims. There is still tremendous denial among those who should know better.

It all boils down to the fact that the public officials have not done their homework, dug deep enough, and conducted the necessary health studies. Meanwhile, the people are suffering.

We are thankful that Assemblymember Ira Ruskin has paid attention to their plight and introduced AB 2402 to address the problems and that he will persevere whatever the outcome. Please write Ira Ruskin in support of the bill and call CCAC 650-328-0424 to report symptoms or concerns.

Lillian Lieberman
Kingsley Avenue
Palo Alto, CA

Sunnyvale Sun
April 12, 2006

Symptoms returned when using Philadelphia water

Thanks for providing a much needed service in informing the public about the validated concerns over the addition of chloramine to our water as a disinfectant. There are many unsuspecting people (young and old alike), who are being unfairly treated when it comes to their health.

It took me many months to relate my congestion to the occasional showering in water containing chloramine. Using purified well water eliminated the hazardous effects I was experiencing.

But then during the last two months I spent in Philadelphia on a work assignment, I found all my previous congestive effects reappeared.

I was surprised to find the Philadelphia Pennsylvania Water District used chloramine also.

So, you see, the problem has become widespread and difficult to avoid. But once we set the correct standard here in our area, others will follow.

Bruce Dronek

Sunnyvale Sun
April 12, 2006

Fish in pond died as result of chloramine

Thanks for your March 29 article about the health concerns of chloramine in our water supply. I first became aware of the new additive after all my fish died. They were in an outside pond, so I replaced them and treated the water. They died again when the lawn sprinklers added enough untreated water to poison them again.

I didn't like the idea that water that comes out of the garden hose kills fish and frogs, so I looked into the situation further.

I found that my concerns were minor compared to the health problems other people were experiencing. I was further surprised that no significant health studies had been done before putting chloramine in our drinking water.

I think we all need to support Assemblyman Ira Ruskin's AB2402 to demand further testing of chloramine and looking at alternative disinfectants.

Now that I have become aware of the health issues caused by chloramine in our water, I believe that thousands are suffering, and they and their doctors have just not associated their problems to the water, which they bathe in and drink. Interested persons can contact Citizens Concerned About Chloramine to learn more.

Marty McGrath

Email to CCAC
December 5, 2005

Dear Citizens Concerned About Chloramine:

Our family has lived in Pacifica (Linda Mar) for 19 years. Until February, 2004 we enjoyed "clean" tap water. Since chloramine became SFPUC's disinfectant of choice, without public approval, our family and pets have experienced health problems related to the extreme drying properties associated with exposure to ammonia. Mouth, eyes, ears, nose, and throat tissue has been raw and dry. Where we had normal mucus protection prior to chloramine in our water, we are now regularly coughing and sneezing with irritation. We avoid sitting in bath water because any bug bites or wounds seem to fester rather than heal within the few days typically needed. Perhaps this irritation happens because chloramine, apparently, is a weaker disinfectant than chlorine.

Within the recent 6 months, our "new" plumbing is deteriorating. We remodelled our kitchen and bathroom 6 years ago, and the plumbing is showing wear beyond the original 45 year old plumbing we replaced! The copper joints connecting our water heater to the rooftop solar heating system is also corroding. We have not yet payed a plumber to inspect these observations; we're anticipating we may have to pay a large bill soon enough! Apparently, plumbers around town have been constantly busy replacing water heaters and toilets! I have noticed and heard about large water main projects ranging from San Francisco down to my husband's place of employment in Los Altos. In our neighborhood alone, NCCWD trucks are ripping up Linda Mar Blvd. and Rosita Road constantly over the past 8 months.

Why is SFPUC insistent that chloramination is the best disinfectant? What extent of infrastructure or public health crisis is required to remove ammonia from our water?

Thank you to Denise Johnson-Kula and all the perservering members of CCAC for informing our public officials with evidence that chloramine is compromising the health and safety of SFPUC consumers.

Theresa Kannengeiser
Hermosa Ave.
Pacifica, CA 94044

Pacifica Tribune
November 9, 2005

Thanks to NCCWD

I would like to thank the North Coast County Water District (NCCWD) for sending a letter to the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency (BAWSCA) recommending that they conduct health studies to investigate the "potential toxic effects of chloramine." BAWSCA represents 29 Bay area water districts served by the Hetch Hetchy water system. This letter is in support of Citizens Concerned About Chloramine (CCAC)'s claim that no scientific research has been done to study the health effects of chloramine. NCCWD's staff independently confirmed that no studies had been done.

The North Coast County Water District's letter was timely. In July, CCAC presented their concerns about chloramine to BAWSCA. As a result, BAWSCA has been considering funding health studies to be done at a major university, such as Stanford University.

Tonight, Wednesday, Nov. 9, CCAC will be meeting to share this as well as other exciting developments in their efforts to rid our water of chloramine. Please join us at 7 p.m. at the Pacifica Library on Palmetto Avenue for information, sharing of ideas and to celebrate CCAC's tremendous progress. For more information, call 328-0424.

Lillian Lieberman
Palo Alto, CA

Daily News
October 29, 2005

Water additive

Dear Editor: I read with great interest Jean Whitney's article on the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission's public meeting on improving the water system. Although most speakers at the public meeting spoke about water conservation, recycling and saving the Tuolumne waters, wildlife and fish, I was struck by the mention of the possible use of polymer pipes for the aging pipeline system and its risks, especially since our water has been chloraminated.

As a master professional carpenter for over 20 years, I have done more plumbing work in the last two years since chloramine was added to the Hetch Hetchy waters. I have seen with my own eyes what chloramine can do to polymer (pvc) pipes. Chloramine is extremely corrosive and de-elasticizes polymer pipes, producing a gooey mess and making the pipes brittle. If this is what the SFPUC is considering for the retrofitting of the aging pipeline system, this would be a major mistake.

In the event of a major earthquake, the polymer pipes would shatter, thus releasing tons of chloraminated water into the bay, watersheds, land, etc. killing our fish, marine invertebrates, frogs, amphibians, reptiles and other animals and wildlife that do not tolerate chloramine well. Not only would people in the water system be deprived of water for months, our ecosystem would be endangered. Retrofitting the pipeline system with a lasting and sound choice of piping material will be critically important for the preservation of our environment, conservation of our water, and better use of allocated funds. Let's not just use a Band-Aid approach.

Ken Russo,
Rhinette Avenue,

Daily News Friday
October 28, 2005


Dear Editor: David Smith's Oct. 20 article, "Water board lends support," was welcome news. Congratulations to the North Coast County Water District (NCCWD). The board had the insight and the foresight to issue a letter urging the Bay Area Water Supply Conservation Agency (BAWSCA) to have health studies conducted on chloramine's effect on human health. This was not a fly-by-night decision on the part of the NCCWD. It took convincing and courage to go out on a limb to support Citizens Concerned About Chloramine's claim that no epidemiological studies were done on the skin, digestive or respiratory effects of chloramine. NCCWD conducted its own Internet search and found that the group's claim was corroborated. This puts to shame the California Conference of Health Local Officers (CCHLO) report that claimed chloramine was the safest water disinfectant when all the studies were not in. All those who have been affected by chloramine, including me, can now take heart, to know that a water board, the NCCWD, has spoken as a responsible steward of our water and our health. Thank you NCCWD.

Jacqueline Kehl,
Lanyard Drive,
Redwood City

Palo Alto Weekly
September 30, 2005

Chloramine problems

Chloramine in the water has caused itching, rashes, dryness and flaking of my skin, and especially troublesome, coughing. Since I am a renter, I was not aware chloramine had been substituted for chlorine back in February 2004.

Through friends, articles and letters to the editor, I began to realize the cause of my symptoms. I am a piano and voice teacher. My voice and vocal chords are important in my work. I have noticed that I am now very susceptible to any respiratory illness. Losing time to take care of these respiratory bouts puts obstacles in making a living.

The additional hardships and cost of using and buying bottled spring water does not help my situation at all. I am sure that I am not the only one affected by the chloramine in the water.

So I am dynamically raising my voice to say we must get the chloramine out of our water! Won't you join me in a chorus of protests and help us get the chloramine out of the water, once and for all?

Anne Delaney
Menlo Park

Pacifica Tribune
September 28, 2005


Jane Northrop's article of Aug. 31 suggested that Linda Corwin and her recently incorporated group Citizens Concerned About Chloramine (CCAC) may be unnecessarily concerned about their water. By quoting a variety of water agency officials and Public Health directors, the same theme is reiterated ad nauseum: "No evidence has been found that chloramine is harmful." Yet, in the same article, Northrop quotes June Weintraub of the San Francisco Department of Public Health (working with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the SFPUC) as admitting that dermal and inhalant studies have NOT been conducted on mono- chloramine. She says the principal reason these studies have not been conducted is because she says there is no evidence that mono-chloramine can be absorbed through the skin or released into the air to be inhaled. If this is true, then equally important, but not mentioned by Ms. Weintraub is the corollary that there is no evidence that mono-chloramine cannot be absorbed through the skin or cannot be released into the air to be inhaled. Is this another valid reason not to do a scientific study? Frankly, we expect more of our public officials than basing Public Health policy on circular reasoning and obfuscation which has characterized the actions of the SFPUC since chloramine was first introduced Feb. 2, 2004. I was at an Aug. 22 meeting between the CCAC and a SFPUC representative and was appalled at the poor presentation given by the SFPUC (Maureen Barry, the appointed spokesperson, was unable to answer most of the questions asked that evening).

David Heran
San Bruno, CA

Pacifica Tribune
September 21, 2005

Rash Free

I think the CCAC misses the point on trihalomethanes or THM's as they're commonly referred to. Whether THM's are "suspected" carcinogens or not is completely irrelevant. What is relevant is the fact that the USEPA and the California Department of Health Services has set limits as to how much THM is allowed in our drinking water. Period. A letter writer makes it seem as if the SFPUC actually has a choice in the matter. They don't. Every single water utility in the country - NCCWD included - has to meet established water quality standards for a number of carcinogens (suspected or otherwise) as well as a laundry list of other dangerous substances such as lead, mercury, arsenic, bacteria ...

For the record, yes, chloramine is indeed a chemical that the SFPUC puts in the drinking water. So is chlorine, the chemical they use to put in the drinking water before chloramines. Would the CCAC rather have no chemicals in their drinking water? Call my crazy, but cholera is not an option here.

It's relatively easy to gather up a list of 100 suspected symptoms and automatically assume they were caused by the change in the drinking water disinfectant. My feeling is that without concrete medical proof, one can easily dismiss each of the cases as being purely coincidental or anecdotal, but let's go crazy and assume for one fraction of a moment that all 100 cases documented by the CCAC were directly linked to the chloramines in the drinking water. Heck, let's make it 1,000 cases, OK? I would still consider that a remarkably small number of cases considering that 2.5 million people in the Bay Area are drinking the same water. The 1,000 cases, again assuming they were all real, would amount to only .04 percent of the population. Let's get real here.

Y'know, I would imagine there were 100 folks out there who had adverse reactions to regular 0l' chlorine. Maybe their symptoms disappeared after the switch to chloramines. Did anyone consider that.

Paul McGregor; Rash-free, for now.
Pacific Manor

see responses:

Pacifica Tribune
October 5, 2005


After reading an interesting letter to the editor entitled - "Rash Free," I was tempted to entitle my response, "Cancer Free (for now)." This, though, would be insensitive even if it illustrates the point that not everyone appears to be susceptible to THM's or chloramine--yet.

Although the EPA isn't sure if THM's are really carcinogens, they decided to regulate them anyway. Other agencies followed suit. Some believe the SFPUC's claim that it had no choice except to switch from chlorine to chloramine (which forms about 1/3 less THM's than chlorine). However, the EPA never mandated the use of chloramine to the SFPUC. The EPA actually offers several other disinfection options that also lower THM's and leaves the choice up to utilities like the SFPUC. Chloramine is an attractive option because it is inexpensive and easy to make. Yet chloramine itself is another "possible" carcinogen according to the few EPA studies that have been conducted. But since the studies were never completed (and are considered inadequate for assessment) chloramine has not yet been deemed unsafe. Also, left unstudied are the skin and respiratory effects of chloraminated water as well as the host of new disinfection by products created by chloramine. So we are trading one "possible" carcinogen for another that may be even worse in the long run. Call me crazy but that just doesn't make much sense to me.

Another issue brought up concerns those suffering from "suspected symptoms." Although it is very difficult for people to do, many have completely avoided the use of their chloraminated water, then re-exposed themselves to it in order to establish that the chloramine is the offending agent. Still these are anecdotal reports and not scientific studies. For the record, my own doctor documented my case as "chloramine mediated respiratory toxicity."

No one really knows how many people are being harmed by the chloramine in their water be it 100 or 1 million people. There are several reasons for this. For one thing most people including doctors are still not aware of the disinfectant change or its possible significance. So most of those affected are being treated for symptoms whose cause is unknown. For another thing, many people cannot manage the avoidance of the water to establish clear cause and effect. Also there are no medical tests that neatly diagnose the problem. Finally, the long term effects from the use of chloramine have not been determined.

I cannot state strongly enough that the burden of proof here does not rest on the shoulders of the exposed and injured public. Nor is it the responsibility of their doctors to conduct or fund scientific studies. These studies should have been conducted by the agencies who are in charge of our water supplies before the public was exposed.

CCAC is appealing to the authorities to have these studies done (in the laboratory and not on the public). CCAC further offers a solution that does not require a return to the days of cholera. Instead of using chloramine to reduce THM's, the WHO recommends the use of pre-filtration of the organic precursors to THM's in the water before final disinfection is applied. This virtually eliminates THM's while allowing the continued use of chlorine.

For those who might be sensitive to chlorine, simple and inexpensive filtration is readily available. Such is not the case for chloramine. I want to thank [the] letter writer and personally invite him to our next public CCAC meeting in Pacifica, on Oct. 11, from 7-9 p.m. in the Main Library, at Palmetto and Hilton. We welcome everyone with questions on the important and complex issues regarding chloramine.

Denise Johnson-Kula
Menlo Park CA

related letters:
  • letter that triggered this response, September 21 by Paul McGregor, click here
  • another response, September 28 by Michael Chittum, click here

Pacifica Tribune
September 28, 2005

That Crazy Chloramine!

I find it disingenuous on the part of any citizen to simply dismiss the suffering of 1,000 people or even 100 or, even one. Last week's writer on chlormines used an example percentage of .04 for 1,000 cases within 2.5 million people. It's really .0004 percent but hey, why worry about only a 1,000 people? If FEMA's acceptable losses percentage was .0004 percent they would probably still be on their way to New Orleans! CCAC has not called for "no chemicals" in the water, risking cholera, etc. as the writer surely knows, but rather a return to Chlorine as opposed to the combination of Chlorine and Ammonia.

I've lived in Pacifica for 28 years. I never had any skin rashes of any type until six weeks after the switchover when I developed rashes all over.

If I don't shower, they go away. But, showers are essential and upon drying I have silver dollar size red spots all over. Call me crazy but this rash actually causes anguish and hundreds of dollars for dermatologists, lotions and potions, filters, prescription meds, etc. Another person's "anecdotal" is very real to me when it affects my family's income as well as my health. Instead of a cavalier attitude towards those of us who have had reactions to chloramines, perhaps the writer can bring a science background, education (maybe even published papers regarding chloramines?) to the next CCAC meeting to help alleviate our pain and suffering, instead of dismissing it.

Michael Chittum
Linda Mar

related letters:
  • letter that triggered this response, September 21 by Paul McGregor, click here
  • another response, October 5 by Denise Johnson-Kula, click here

Pacifica Tribune
August 24, 2005


When reading a letter in last week's Tribune, I noticed an interesting coincidence. The writer mentioned that the pier was being washed from one end to the other, then he mentions that the salmon fishing has been slow this year.

A report done by the Canadian EPA and published in 2001, says that salmonids can detect and will avoid water with levels of chloramine as low as 0.05 mg per liter. The water used to wash the pier has a concentration of about 2.2 mg per liter. So, I'm wondering if a clean pier equals fewer salmon. I encourage anyone who is interested in the correlation between chloramine and the deaths of marine organisms to log onto ESB.DSE@ec.gc.ca to obtain the "Assessment Report - Inorganic Chloramine." This report also says that freshwater organisms will suffer at chloramine concentrations above 0.0056mg per liter and marine organisms will suffer at chloramine concentrations above 0.0028 mg per liter. It was from this data that Canadian EPA determined that chloramine was toxic.

Linda Corwin
Sharp Park

Pacifica Tribune
August 10, 2005

After Reading

After reading NCCWD Director Violet Gotelli's Guest Column in the July 27 Pacifica Tribune, I am more convinced than ever that the chloramine in the water must be removed. Ever since Feb. 2004, chloramine has caused adverse health effects on my wife, my mother and me. We have experienced asthma/bronchial problems, skin irritation and itching. These symptoms occur after showering, cooking, drinking the water and even washing dishes. Since I am a professional house painter, I am severely impacted by the constant clean-ups and wash-ups that I must endure on my jobs.

My family and I are not sure how long we can continue to use bottled spring water, use housepainter fume masks, gloves, creams, anti-itch remedies and asthma relievers (over the counter or prescription) and the kindness of my customers to use their water facilities in areas (La Honda, Pescadero) where they do not use chloramine as a disinfectant.

It seems to me that it makes sense to guarantee the safety of our water which is so vital to our lives. I beseech the authorities to take immediate action to remove chloramine from our precious water system.

Roland Franz
Daly City, CA

Pacifica Tribune
August 10, 2005

Chloramine in Drinking Water

I recently read Vi Gotelli's Guest Column in the Tribune and Letters to Editor about the use of chloramines in our drinking water, which I agreed.

As a native San Franciscan, I have heard from many sources over the years how lucky we are to have our drinking water straight from the Sierras, provided to us by the San Francisco Municipal Water District, water considered the safest, purest and softest drinking water in the world. No one I knew ever became ill drinking San Francisco's untreated water.

San Francisco started placing chloramines in our drinking water during early 2004. To kill off "the bugs." What bugs? There is no information available that assures chloramine has been tested and determined to be safe for prolonged human consumption. Until we have answers, we should consider water containing chloramine as unfit for consumption purposes.

The North Coast County Water District purchases our water from the San Francisco Municipal Water District. Neither the North County nor San Francisco Water Districts have sufficient answers about the safe or unsafe use of chloramine in drinking water. Were public hearings held? No one I know seems to know. We, the citizens, should have had adequate notice to attend announced public hearings on the use of chloramines in our drinking water, the opportunity to state our concerns, be provided technical information, and an opportunity to vote on the issue!

As a retired Consumer Safety Officer from the US Food and Drug Administration, one of my responsibilities was to ensure manufacturers used safe and effective ingredients in our foods, bottled drinking water and drug products as specified by FDA law and regulations. Manufacturers, or their suppliers, are required to test all ingredients according to recognized protocols such as the US Pharmacopoeia and the Generally Recognized As Safe ingredient listing. The US Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates municipal drinking water, is also responsible for assuring ingredients placed in drinking water have been adequately tested for safety purposes.

My associates and former colleagues in the FDA and EPA, who live in the Bay Area, are highly concerned about chloramines in their drinking water. This is a sad day when our local governments allow the San Francisco Water District to put a toxic contaminant in our precious drinking water. I am sure, much like the use of another additive, MTBE, which EPA approved as an additive for gasoline, and now is a major contaminant in wells and lakes, chloramine will come to haunt us.

There are many problems associated with chloramines. One problem, I understand, is the acidic nature of chloramines which corrodes soldered water pipe joints and deteriorates rubber gaskets. A manager at the Linda Mar Ace Hardware Store said lots of folks are coming in lately to replace toilet tank rubber flappers which are falling apart due to chloramines.

We have several ponds where goldfish lived and frogs came to breed, and hatch their eggs. Each year, during mid-summer, I top off the ponds with city water. Last year I treated the city water with an anti-chloramine treatment solution, which I prepared as directed, but was unable to save the frogs and fish. Frogs did not return this year to breed. I heard from other people with frog ponds that are having the same disastrous experience.

Another concern is the potential for harming or killing the Steelhead fish and other aquatic animals in San Pedro Creek and local waterways as a result of people washing cars and lawns, causing chloramine-contaminated run-off to enter storm drain systems, emptying into waterways and destroying aquatic animals.

I hope, we as a community demand honest and accurate information from our local government and water districts about the use of chloramines in our drinking water and a chance to vote on its continued use.

Ken Miles

Palo Alto Daily News
August 9, 2005


Dear Editor: In an August 2nd article on chloramine the SFPUC states that chloramine is a "proven" disinfectant.

However, it is important for the public to know that EPA documents show that chloramine, itself, has not been tested for human health and safety. There are no skin or respiratory studies and the cancer studies were never completed. Only recently has chloramine been used extensively in the U.S. and the fact that it was not tested before it was used, should horrify everyone.

Our group Citizens Concerned About Chloramine (CCAC) obtained the onginal CCLHO report through the Freedom of Information Act.

It reveals that the CCHLO never did ANY studies on the health effects of chloramine either. Since NO health studies exist, the CCLHO simply stated that there are "no known" adverse health effects from the use of chloramine. Do the authorities take us for fools? Furthermore, the only data they looked at compared chloramine to chlorine in terms of the formation of byproducts that may be "possible" carcinogens.

The CCLHO never considered any of the other ways to lower these byproducts. The best recommendation comes from the World Health Organization (WHO) which is to filter out the organic matter that combines with chlorine to make these byproducts.

With pre-filtration byproducts are eliminated, thus allowing the continued use of chlorine as our water disinfectant. Chlorine is a far superior disinfectant to chloramine and has none of the toxic or harmful effects that chloramine is already causing to individuals, the environment and to our plumbing and the infrastructure.

Denise Johnson-Kula,
Florence Lane,
Menlo Park

Palo Alto Daily News
August 6, 2005

Water additive

Dear Editor: The Aug. 2 aticle on chloramine quoted the California Conference of Local Health Officials as saying that the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission's choice of chloramine over chlorine was the "safest alternative" disinfectant for our water. Then why did this "safest alternative" make my body break out in rashes and welts with intense burning and itching in March 2004? Doctors and medical treatments did not help.

I found out that in February 2004, the Public Utilities Commission deliberately chose to put chloramine into our water without testing it for its human health effects. Now the only alternative is to use bottled water for everything, even laundry. Showerhead filters do not work nor are they certified by the National Sanitation Foundation. Filters under the sink only work on cold water.

A better solution is a whole house filter that needs an extensive filter to take out the chlorine and a reverse osmosis or a Cation filter to remove the ammonia, but it's expensive - $10,000 to $15,000 for a wholehouse filter with $1,200 maintenance, and for a five-unit apartment building, $80,000. It is not guaranteed to take out all the ammonia.

The best solution comes from the World Health Organization; that is, to first prefilter organic matter in the water at point of entry, and then add a disinfectant. This reduces trihalomethanes or THMs - a possible carcinogen - and allows the continued use of chlorine, which is a better disinfectant than chloramine. Let's make our water safe so we can enjoy and use it.

Lillian Lieberman,
Kingsley Avenue,
Palo Alto

Pacifica Tribune
August 3, 2005


Thank you for publishing the Guest Column by Vi Gotelli concerning the Chloramine in our water. This is a very serious public health issue, and those of us who are aware of it are worried. As more people learn about what is a potentially toxic chemical that we and our families drink and bathe in, we may hope that something can be done to study the problem and rectify the situation.

S. Gillis

Pacifica Tribune
August 3, 2005

More Chloramine

I really liked Violet Gotelli's Guest Column about the chlorine and ammonia level in our tap water.

It was succinct and spoke to my environment illness/multiple chemical sensitivities. I especially respected Mrs. Gotelli's last paragraph questioning why there were no health studies done by SFPUC before putting ammonia in our household water (bath, shower, drinking, cooking, pet water). I use purified bottled water for as many uses as possible. It is common knowledge that ammonia is poison and combined with chlorine forms a poisonous gas. We all must take care of this generation and our environment to be assured there will be a seventh generation. Those concerned, please contact Linda Corwin at 355-6447.

Joan Benedetti
Linda Mar

Pacifica Tribune
August 3, 2005

More on Chloramine

I commend Vi Gotelli for asserting her charge as an elected director of NCCWD, confirming her "sworn obligation to see that clean, safe water is provided to the citizens of this district" in last week's Tribune. Her reasons for concern about the quality and safety of our water as treated and delivered by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) are being substantiated by hundreds of consumers along the 200-mile Hetch Hetchy delivery system.

Many of us have experienced health problems as well as plumbing and infrastructure issues; specifically, water mains are beginning to fail. If other consumers have wondered about respiratory and digestive complications, or toilet and plumbing disintegration, most notably over the past 6 to 12 months, please consider the possibility that chloramine in our water is implicated. Observe if you or family members have any symptoms, particularly after showering, such as dry membranes in your mouth, throat, eyes, sinuses, or skin. Remember the household cleaning recipe using ammonia, and the toxic warning to never combine ammonia and chlorine bleach!

There is an active advocacy group in San Mateo County, Citizens Concerned About Chloramine (CCAC) who are informing our political representatives and governing agencies such as Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency (BAWSCA) about the inadequacies of chloramine as the disinfectant of choice. Several members of CCAC, including Linda Corwin of Pacifica testified before BAWSCA, a representative body of the Hetch Hetchy water districts, who listened attentively to their documented and substantiated concerns.

Many of us are wondering how and why the SFPUC chose the EPA's cheapest of 15 disinfectant options. Will this apparently bottom-line appealing disinfectant create a long-term overhead borne by us, the consumer? Clean, safe water is the mission of water districts; therefore, the burden of cost needs to be distributed among the consumers. Over the past year special filtration and infrastructure repair burdens have shifted to the public and each water district. Who knows what health costs we will bear in the near future?

The SFPUC faces at least $4 billion in its restoration of the 200 mile Hetch Hetchy delivery system. How responsible is the SFPUC in arbitrarily choosing the least expensive disinfectant treatment without researching its effects on consumers and the environment. The World Health Organization recommends prefiltration before adding chlorine as the most effective disinfectant treatment for clean, safe water.

Regarding any of your questions, concerns or symptoms, call or e-mail:
Theresa Kannengeiser
Linda Mar

San Mateo County Times
July 26, 2005

What has happened to our pristine water that comes from the Sierra? Ever since the SFPUC changed to using Chloramine (chlorine + ammonia) as a disinfectant in our water, we have a disinfectant that is 2,000 to 100,000 LESS effective that chorine alone. The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that whenever chloramine is used as a disinfectant, those with an impaired immune system (such as myself since I had chemotherapy) should NOT drink the water without boiling it for over 10 minutes. The WHO has said that others who should do that are infants under six months, the elderly, those with kidney problems and anyone with an impaired imune system. I feel like I'm in a third world country where the rule is, "if you can't cook it or peel it, don't eat it". BUT, even if one does boil their water for over ten minutes to get rid of the pathogens in our water, we are still left with the chloramine that cannot be removed by boiling. Many of us are sensitive to the ammonia which has been added to the chlorine and are having burning and itching rashes, asthma, sinus congestion, digestive problems, etc. because there have been NO studies done showing that this is safe in our drinking water. This is not what I expect from our water supply. Please join me in asking our legislators to demand that the SFPUC provide water that is safe for all of us to drink.

Claudette L. Main,
Nina Lane,
Foster City, CA

Palo Alto Daily News

The danger of chloramine


Are we just sheep being led to the slaughter? How could our water be treated with contaminants that are slowly killing us? Chloramine was added to our water and there is a chemical that is poisoning us. The most troubling aspect of chloramine is it cannot be taken out of the water by boiling or by letting stand uncovered overnight.

I see that water hydrants are being flushed, going down unfiltered into the storm drains into the Bay. How many years will it take when every Bay Area city is flushing its fire hydrants into the Bay which will kill all the fish? Whoever thought that a toxic like ammonia would be added to our water?

I know people who live in the East Bay whose pipes are corroded and busting because of the ammonia.

What is it doing to our bodies?

Sylvia Rubel

Palo Alto Daily News
March 30, 2005

Chloramine risks

Dear Editor: Your two articles about chloramine are very timely. The San Francisco Public Utility Commission seems to be following in the tracks of other agencies when it tries to deny that harm is being done while at the same time, refusing to do the human testing needed to prove their point. Human testing has not yet been done with chloramine and every day I find more people who are having health problems since the introduction of chloramine into our water. They just don't know who to complain to. Those who did try to complain were told that nothing would be done because no one else was complaining. Is this the old "divide and conquer" trick?

I truly appreciate Supervisors Gordon and Church for continuing to be vigilant on this issue. I would like to suggest that they: (1) Take another look at the documents reviewed by the California Conference of Local Health Officers and see if any mention human testing. (2) Take a look at the increase in asthma and other respiratory rates in L.A. and other cities since they began using chloramine, and (3) Read the Canadian EPA report that has determined chloramine to be a toxin because it was killing the salmon in their rivers.

Please don't let this toxin become another MTBE! Please don't make us, your constituents, be the guinea pigs while "health officials" continue to monitor the effects of chloramine.

Linda Corwin,
Moana Way,

see follow-on (April 3 by David Heran, next letter)

Daily News Group
April 3, 2005

Water treatment

Dear Editor: Linda Corwin asked in her letter "Chloramine risks" if the San Francisco Public Utility Commission is using a "divide and conquer" trick to make it appear that few are complaining about chloramine in order to buttress its assertion that this water additive is safe. Yes, they are. The recent dermal-only phone-in "survey" only had 17 respondents and completely eliminated anyone calling in about inhalant concerns. Those with respiratory problems, such as asthma, were completely overlooked. The California Conference of Local Health Officers can make chloramine the next MTBE by sidestepping the issue with their March 8 letter, which states that "Drinking water treated with monochloramine is not known to cause significant adverse human health effects." This statement was based on a "peer review" and not on actual human studies, which have never been conducted. Log on to the Web site www.rouxingpingmu.cn and find out why we must support our county supervisors Gordon and Church as they uncover the extent of our water follies.

David Heran,
Acacia Avenue,
San Bruno

to see the letter that triggered this follow-on, March 30 by Linda Corwin, click here

Sunnyvale Sun
March 30, 2005

Water from Hetch Hetchy may be source of trouble

With every passing year, does it not seem more media coverage is being focused on the issues of water contamination around the world? Here at home, for instance, we have the Hetch Hetchy water system renovation issue.

Why are we using a disinfectant like chloramine when the long-term usage of chlorine has worked well in the past?

This chloramine is a combination of chlorine with the toxic chemical ammonia.

I am writing about this because, since the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission authorized the ammonia contamination in February last year, I have met more seniors with health afflictions from itchiness to asthma that were insignificant or nonexistent before February and now are being medically treated.

Take the case of my mom, who lives in Sunnyvale; she boils her tap water all the time. She has complained this past year of throat constriction when she swallows. I found out that the vapors she was breathing could cause her condition and is now being investigated. I think it is appalling that the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is selling toxic water through our taps. No wonder the bottle water firms are thriving.


Palo Alto Daily News
March 27, 2005

Dear Editor: I too have concerns about the additive ammonia/chloramine, to our water here in Palo Alto. For the past few months, I have had rashes on my hands, shoulders, arms and legs. When I first heard about this additive, I decided not to drink the water, but it did not occur to me that I could get a contact rash from bathing and doing our laundry. After reading the letters in the Daily News, it seems to me that this could indeed be possible.

I am not sure where I can go from here, but I would appreciate any input from your readers, or your paper, about agencies and people we can contact to find out what we can do about this.

Margaret Hager,
Maddux Drive,
Palo Alto

Palo Alto Daily News
Sunday, March 20, 2005

Water additive

Dear Editor: In regard to the letter written by Lillian Lieberman on Feb. 26, I would like to add my voice to the cry to take the chloramine additive out of our water system. I am particularly concerned about its toxic effect on the health of human beings.

Since February 2, 2004, I have experienced rashes over my hands, body, arms and legs. It was after I found out about the new additive that was added to the water that I stopped using tap water and found that my rashes cleared up greatly. Unfortunately, I find that bathing, showering and cooking becomes a burdensome chore that leaves me exhausted. I am once again using the tap water. Nothing seems to help and I feel like I'm living in a third world country.

The only solution is to remove the ammonia/chloramine from our water. Fish and aquatic life are not the only ones suffering from this toxic additive. We all deserve better and should not have to risk our health by using public tap water.

Margarita Davison,
Loma Verde Avenue,
Palo Alto

Palo Alto Daily News
Monday, Jan. 31, 2005

Dead fish

Dear Editor: I recently moved to San Mateo from Palo Alto, where I cultured a fine family of aquatic life for seven years. When I changed the water here, they all died. I was devastated. It took about 20 minutes for all 80 fish, crawfish, and frogs to be wiped out. Twenty minutes! The fish store said "chloramines." So I restocked. I can change the water safely now, but only by treating it first (major hassle). But the frogs die no matter what I do.

There is a message here - like a canary in a coal mine - that we'd best heed. Frogs have long been known to be the bellwether of toxins. Industrial chemical companies carry a lot of clout, and seemingly would poison their own in their rationalizations for profit. Only we can provide the feedback that can stop such reckless chemical profiteering. Please join this fight, and help save our water and our health.

Clark Dunson,
Laurel Street,
San Mateo

Palo Alto Daily News
April 20, 2004

Water test

Dear Editor: I am 78 years old and have been extremely healthy my whole life. I'm still very active, very involved in the community and am a classical pianist. I eat organic foods, exercise and keep busy.

About 10 days after chloramine was introduced into the drinking water, I started to develop a bad rash with welts all over my body. I did not know what it was from. I thought it may be the chloramine, so I have spent a lot of money and bought non-chloramine bottled water to bathe myself with. I cannot take a shower or bath with chloramine, nor drink the water.

After heating up the bottled water and taking daily sponge baths for a few days, my rash is subsiding. I also started wearing rubber gloves when doing dishes with city water. I don't let the water touch my fingers ever. Because of the switch to non-chloramine, I'm convinced it was the chloramine water additive that caused my severe problem. I do not need to go to a doctor for treatment, as my rash is going away when not exposed to city water.

I am willing to do an experiment for the city councils, water board, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (which operates the Hetch Hetchy water system that serves the Peninsula), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the newspapers if they want me to. I will start to drink and shower with with the chloramine (city) water again. I will become ill with a bad rash and welts. You can take a picture of me, and see. Then I will switch to the non-chloramine water, and you can take a picture again - you will see the difference.

You will then know the health hazards of chloramine, and decide immediately to take this poison out of your water, and use safe, alternate technologies to clean our water. People, animals and some plants should not have to become ill due to this poison.

Marilyn Raubitschek,
W. Grant Place,
San Mateo

Letters, New York

Poughkeepsie Journal
January 7, 2007

Chemically treated water harms health

Wappingers Falls buys its water from Poughkeepsie, which has started using chloramines to disinfect its water. I immediately started having reactions before I even knew this fact. My skin was dry, itchy and burning. It hurt all the time, and I've gotten rashes and blisters between my fingers,

My water smells and tastes bad. I was experiencing heartburn until I switched to drinking bottled water. I'm also short of breath. During this same time, I've had two severe allergic reactions. I have an appointment with an allergist, but it's quite a coincidence that I've only started experiencing this now.

The fact that I'm sensitive to chloramines in the water doesn't mean no one else is being affected by it. We're organic creatures like the frogs, fish, amphibians and the germs that the chloramines kill. Even if we don't care about the environment or these other creatures, what makes us think that chloramines won't have any severe effects on us?

I don't have room here to print anything regarding the health dangers of chloramines, or the expenses they pose to homeowners and businesses. But anyone can visit: www.www.rouxingpingmu.cn/ccacoverview.htm or www.mv-voice.com/story.php?story_id=1772

We need to search for healthier methods to protect ourselves and our world.

Chris Merando, Wappingers Falls

Southern Dutchess News
December 20, 2006

Concerned about chloramines

To the editor:

It's not true that the public is unable to detect the presence of chloramines in our water. I could have told you something was wrong before I ever saw that first article on the subject in the Southern Dutchess News.

And I'm not writing this letter because I was scared by a newspaper article. I'm experiencing firsthand the effects of the chloramines in my water. By the time I saw the article, my skin was already dry, itchy, and burning. It actually hurt all the time. I now use a Vitamin C shower filter to neutralize the chlorine, which is prevented from leaving my water due to the presence of the chloramines. But I read that Vitamin C filters are not effective against the chloramines. Yes, I got a little carried away, carting buckets of water from my shower filter to the sink to wash my dishes and to fill up my washing machine, and it felt like I was living in the dark ages. But now that I've returned to my senses and am back to washing my dishes with tap water, I have a rash between the fingers on my left hand - again. What good is this water?

My water smells and tastes bad. I was experiencing heartburn, and as soon as I switched to drinking bottled water that problem went away. During this same timeframe I've had two severe allergic reactions. The second time, my face and throat were so swollen I was afraid my breathing passages would close up. I am on medication for the allergies, and have made an appointment to see an allergist; and while I don't know what I'm allergic to yet, it's quite a coincidence that I've only started experiencing this now. I seem to have also picked up a secondary problem where I'm wheezing and congested. If chloramines can do this to my skin and my breathing, what are they doing to the rest of me?

And, just because I'm sensitive to the chloramines in the water, this doesn't mean that no one else is being affected by it. I take that sensitivity as a warning signal from my body. We are organic creatures just like the germs the chloramines kill, and just like the frogs, fish and amphibians they kill. Even if we didn't care about the environment or these other creatures, what makes us think that chloramines won't have any severe effects on us as well?

I got on the web and did some research on chloramines; and I found that the Concerned Citizens Against Chloramine (CCAC) is a group in San Francisco who formed because the people in their area started experiencing health problems ever since the introduction of chloramines into their water system in 2004. Here are some of the highlights of their investigations:

• The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that the use of chloramines is ADEQUATE as a disinfectant. The World Health Organization (WHO) stated in its 1996 guidelines on drinking water quality, that chloramines are a much LESS EFFECTIVE disinfectant than chlorine, causing people with weak immune systems to have to boil their water for 10 minutes before drinking it to prevent getting ill.

• In 1999 the EPA stated that there are NO SCIENTIFIC STUDIES on skin or respiratory effects of chloramines, and that LIMITED, INADEQUATE cancer studies had been conducted.

• While chlorine leaves residues in the water, chloramines also leave residues in the water. The WHO recommends that the formation of trihalomethanes be minimized by filtering the organic matter in the water before final disinfection with chlorine, in order to eliminate trihaomethanes altogether.

• We absorb the greatest amounts of chloramines into our bodies through our skin when we shower, and we also breathe it into our lungs during a shower. For those suffering from respiratory effects such as asthma, a whole house filtration system is imperative. "No showerhead filters work to remove chloramine, and sink filters only work on cold-water for drinking. For high flow uses like showering or bathing, a whole house filtration system that includes an extensive carbon and reverse osmosis or cation filter is necessary to remove both the chlorine and the ammonia. However, a whole house filtration system costs $15,000 plus $1,200 for yearly maintenance for a single home. For an apartment building, filtration can cost between $80,000 to $120,000 or more."

• "Chloramine has contributed to the endangerment of wildlife habitats and is killing frogs and other amphibians, reptiles, fish and other aquatic and marine life. Discharges from water main breakages and drainage from storm drains run unchecked into our creeks, streams, rivers and marine areas, and are poorly or inadequately treated or monitored. The Canadian CEPA ruled that chloramine is 'toxic' to the environment as defined in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, Section 64 (CEPA 1999). Creeks in areas served by the East Bay Municipal Utilities District and the Marin Municipal Water District have already experienced frog and fish habitat destruction from chloraminated water main breaks.

• Chloramine has caused thousands to tens of thousands of dollars in plumbing repairs to homeowners. Chloramine corrodes rubber-plumbing parts such as rubber toilet flappers and gaskets, rubber hoses, and rubber fittings in dishwashers and water heaters. It leaches lead from lead-tin soldered joints in pipes."

• "Pinhole pitting in copper pipes due to chloramine corrosion causes small water leaks in walls leading to mold growth. Some molds are highly toxic to humans and can endanger the health of individuals, often permanently. Insurance companies do not cover damage from mold. As a result, some homeowners lose their homes."

• "Chloramine de-elasticizes plastic polymer (pvc) pipes, releasing possible carcinogens into the water. The SFPUC is even now contemplating using polymer pipes to replace existing pipes in the aging Hetch Hetchy system in San Francisco. Polymer pipes become brittle and shatter when de-elasticized, releasing chloraminated water onto the environment. Leached lead and plastic substances seeping into consumers' tap water endanger the health of people."

• Finally, "chloramine affects businesses that use water to process their products. Expensive and extensive filtration systems to remove chloramine must be installed and maintained by microchip manufacturers, breweries, soft drink producers, pet store owners, markets and restaurants where live fish or shellfish are sold or used, color photo labs, and kidney dialysis machine operators."

Chloramines are not our only alternative, and I sincerely ask that our elected officials please explore other, safer, and possibly more economic routes. I feel that switching to chloramines is a bad public health decision. And it is a bad economic decision. It poses a high cost to homeowners and to businesses. If we switch to chloramines in our water now, we may have to switch back to a safer and more effective method in the future, and we will in effect be paying twice to fix the same problem.

And I don't believe that better living through chemicals is the way of the future. It is becoming the way of the past as more people are waking up to the threats posed to our health and to our environment, and as we search for healthier methods to protect ourselves and our world.

Chris Merando
Wappingers Falls

Letters, Vermont, Champlain Water District (CWD)

The Other Paper
December 7, 2006

Dear Editor,

In her letter [to the editor] 11/30, Joanne Davis noted concerns about the Champlain Water District's adding chloramine to our drinking water. She cited the lack of epidemiological studies and said that chloramine should not be used on people until studies are complete. She correctly pointed out that there are other options for meeting the EPA ruling that requires a lowering of cancer causing chloronated organics in our drinking water that resulted from the CWD's use of chlorine until it switched to chloramine last April.

One such option was successfully implemented by the Cincinnati water district some years ago: carbon filtration beds for all city water. The carbon removes the chloronated organics, heavy metals, and other harmful ingredients without adding any chemicals to the water. The Champlain Water District knew about Cincinnati's successful implementation of carbon filtration. Yet it selected the unstudied chloramine alternative.

I would respectfully ask, if carbon works and there is less risk to public health, why not carbon filtration for the Champlain Water district?


James Marc Leas
South Burlington

The Essex Reporter
Nov. 30, 2006

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to the half-page ad in last week's paper from the Champlain Water District about their change in water disinfectant this April from chlorine to chloramines. In that ad they said:

"Part of CWD's standard procedures, when consumer inquiries are received regarding health related concerns, is to follow Vermont Department of Heath recommendations to assure that evidence-based physician diagnoses are applied to investigate if symptoms are in any way attributable to drinking water. To date, no reported symptoms have been linked by evidence-based physician diagnoses...."

It is time to clear up this "doctor thing". Doctors don't know about choloramines and its health effects, because, as the EPA states, there have been no studies on the respiratory or dermal heath effects of chloramines in drinking water. Without any such studies, doctors are certainly not going to diagnose these rashes, skin sores, burn marks on skin from the shower, stinging eyes, difficulty breathing, choking and coughing after showers, and dry-mouth symptoms as water-related. So, they are NOT calling the CWD or the Health Department, even when patients talk about the cause and effect experiments they've done going away from the area and/or removing themselves at home from the water - which usually temporarily alleviates the symptoms.

In the CWD ad is a copy of a letter written by Vermont Department of Heath State Toxicologist, Bill Bress, saying that according to an EPA document "in Humans, health effects do not APPEAR to be associated with levels of residual chloramines typically found in drinking water." That is a vague quote, and in another place in the same document it's stated that, "There are no epidemiologic studies that have been designed to address specifically the potential adverse effects of exposure to chloramines on human health." The latter is true. The EPA also states that there are no studies on carcinogenicity of chloramine that are adequate for assessment.

This chemical, CHLORAMINES, is causing some very serious health problems - and must be studied. We cannot wait around any longer for a doctor to stick his or her neck out and call the Department of Health or the CWD.

The Vermont Department of Health is soon to do some kind of a study on chloramines. I can only hope that they go at this with an open mind and do cause and effect, on-the-water/off-the-water symptom experiments.

There is little those of us with symptoms can do. While the CWD maintains they are concerned about their 68,000 customers, when I called them about my symptoms, I was discredited and warned not to contact the media. I then called the Vermont Department of Health and was hung up on. When I called a second time, I spoke to a different doctor. He took my information and I have not heard from him since the phone call. I know many others have received the same kind of responses.

None of the doctors I have seen have been able to make sense of my dry-mouth and respiratory problems, but I know there are others in the Water District who have similar symptoms since the disinfectant change in April and that these symptoms are also prevalent in the San Francisco Bay area where a similar struggle is being waged to remove chloramines from their water.

We customers with symptoms must be taken seriously.

Diana J. Jones
Essex, Vermont

Burlington Free Press
November 28, 2006

Toxicologist's letter deserves response

Regarding the Nov. 11 letter from Bill Bress, Vermont state toxicologist, regarding Champlain Water District's (CWD) adding chloramine as a secondary disinfectant to the water supply in April in response to EPA's ruling that by 2013 water districts must reduce two disinfectant byproducts of chlorime, I wish to address two points.

One, he said the local group, People Concerned About Chloramine (PCAC), is "campaigning against the CWD." That is not so. PCAC is campaigning for conclusive epidemiological respiratory, dermal, and cancer studies to be done to determine if any levels of chloramine are safe. PCAC also wants the chloramine removed until its health effects on humans are known.

Two, he encouraged people not to "self-diagnose" and to meet with health care providers. PCAC advises the same. However, it receives reports that those who do discover that most providers are unaware of the addition of chloramine. They cannot help diagnose patients due to lack of studies to assess. Instead people leave with prescriptions for antibiotics or cortisone creams or nebulizers. Some PCAC members without insurance cannot afford to go to providers and buy prescriptions.

Therefore, some group members "self-diagnose" by conducting cause and effect studies by not using CWD water and using bottled water for everything or going to a chloramine-free location for several days. There, most become symptom-free only to return home to the CWD water and resumption of their symptoms.

Health effects of chloramine must be studied further soon. There are other options for meeting the EPA ruling.

South Burlington

Seven Days
November 8, 2006


In response to Vermont State Toxicologist Bill Bress, I dutifully downloaded "Drinking Water Criteria Document for Chloramine," which he directed the public to read in his letter to the editor last week.

What I was able to find in Chapter 6, "Health Effects in Humans," was this: "There are no epidemiologic studies that have been designed to address specifically the potential adverse effects of exposure to chloramines on human health." That report also said that chloramine was "not classifiable as to human carcinogenicity," due to inadequate data.

If the document states that "In humans, health effects do not appear to be associated with levels of residual chloramines typically found in drinking water" and another sentence in the same paper says, "There are no epidemiologic studies that have been designed to address specifically the potential adverse effects of exposure to chloramines on human health," then it seems that there don't appear to be any health effects from chloramines as a water disinfectant because there are no studies on chloramines as a water disinfectant. Hmm.

Chapter 4, entitled "Human Exposure," apparently doesn't exist. In its place I read, "To Be Provided by the Office of Water." Apparently, it never was.

I did find on page 2 of the EPA paper: "DISCLAIMER - This report is an external draft for review purposes only and does not constitute Agency policy." What do you have here? Precious little, it appears.

Remove the chloramine. Do the studies. We are humans, not guinea pigs.

Ellen Powell

Seven Days
November 1, 2006


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires that public drinking water supplies provide secondary disinfection by either residual chlorine or chloramine to prevent the growth of dangerous bacteria and protect public health "Complaints Surface About New Water Disinfection Method," August 2].

In April 2006, the Champlain Water District switched from using chlorine to chloramine as a safer way to disinfect the public water supply. Chloramines have been used to keep drinking water safe since 1917. Approximately one third of all U.S. water systems use chloramine.

Recently, a local organization called People Concerned About Chloramine (PCAC) has been campaigning against the Champlain Water District with a flyer, "Is Your Tap Water Safe?" They claim that chloramine is the cause of some skin and respiratory symptoms.

The Vermont Department of Health has reviewed EPA data on chloramine, including a 155-page report "Drinking Water Criteria Document for Chloramine" published in 1994 that concludes: "In humans, health effects do not appear to be associated with levels of residual chloramines typically found in drinking water."

The Health Department is also reviewing health complaints.

We strongly encourage Vermon- ters to avoid self-diagnosis and to consult with their health-care provider before reaching a conclusion about possible causes of their health concerns. Additionally, health-care providers are encouraged to contact the Health Department Division of Health Surveillance (800-640-4374) with potential concerns related to chloramines.

The Vermont Department of Health advises anyone to be wary of anecdotal or unscientific sources of information. To review a copy of the EPA report "Drinking Water Criteria Document for Chloramine" visit www.epa.gov/ncea/pdfs/water/chloramine/dwchloramine.pdf.

Bill Bress
Bress is the state toxicologist for the Vermont Department of Health.

The Other Paper
August 31, 2006

Dear Editor,

The consumers of the Champlain Water District (CWD) have every right to the cleanest, safest, purest drinking water available. The formation of chloramine requires that ammonia be added to the water in addition to chlorine. The concern that the addition of ammonia could result in more people having adverse reactions is not surprising. Individuals have unique tolerances for chemicals, and the fewer we add to the drinking water, the better.

There is not a single scientific study that documents the short or long term dermal or respiratory healh effects of chloramine in drinking water. Anyone who tells you otherwise is misleading you. Chloramine's health effects are not known. Blind assurances about safety are entirely unsubstantiated.

With regards to Disinfection By-Products (DBPs - chemicals formed when disinfectants combine with organic material in the water), the switch to chloramine does not eliminate them, it changes them. Chlorine's DBPs are known, have limits under the Safe Drinking Water Act, and must be monitored. Chloramine's DBPs are just being discovered, many are more toxic than those of chlorine, and have no limits or monitoring requirements yet. Handy in meeting regulations, but disconcerting from a health and safety perspective.

Most experts agree that pre-filtration of organic materials prior to chlorination is the best choice for reduction of DBPs. This is the choice that has been made by the Burlington Water District.

Clean and safe drinking water is a human right, and is paid for by the consumers of CWD. Their concerns should not be dismissed by people who assure us that chloramines are safe without any data to back up that assertion.

Kind regards,
Deborah A. Loring
Burlington, VT

The Other Paper
August 31, 2006

Dear Editor,

As a mother of 2 small children and someone very concerned about the environment, especially our lakes, rivers and streams, I read Jennifer Clancy's letter about the (supposed) safety of chlormine and was shocked. How could someone with such a connection to water not include any statistics on the negative effects of chloramine? I believe the answer is Ms. Clancy's long time relationship with the Champlain Water District (CWD). They are listed as one of her company's clients on their website. Further, it appears that Ms. Clancy and her company have been enjoying a relationship with the CWD for nineteen years, according to a June 8, 2004 article on the American Water Works Association's website by Judi Buehrer. It is disturbing and dishonest for Ms. Clancy to list so many qualifications to support her statement and not mention her relationship with CWD. Ms. Clancy's assurances to the public on the safety of chloramine are, by definition, biased. Her opinion is not an independent one. For more information about chloromine check out http://www.www.rouxingpingmu.cn, they have a great page of facts! People Concerned About Chloramine continue to document symptoms from people using tap water in the CWD. To report symptoms and/or concerns, call 651-8753, email .

Megan Brook
S. Burlington VT

The Other Paper
July 20, 2006


To the Editor and Readers:

Do you have concerns about and/or reactions to the chloramine which has been added to our Champlain Water District (CWD) water supply which serves South Burlington, Shelburne, Willliston, Winooski, Essex, Essex Junction, Jericho Village, Milton, Mallets Bay, Colchester Town and Colchester Fire Districts #1 and #3. As of April 10th, CWD added chloramine to our water supply in response to an EPA directive to all water districts in the US to reduce chlorine disinfection byproducts (DBPs) by 2013. So far CWD is the only district in Vermont which has adopted this particular method. There are other methods that pose far less risk. It is important to put a moratorium on the current method while pursuing a less risky alternative, especially before other Vermont districts respond to the EPA's 2013 deadline.

I am one person having the reaction of stinging eyes with red and swollen rims which can last for hours if I get tap or shower water in them. Other reactions being reported include respiratory symptoms such a congestion, coughing, wheezing, etc. and skin symptoms such as rashes, intense itching, burning eyes and skin, dry, itchy scalp, and dry mouth/throat.

CWD's literature, itself, which they have distributed via flyers in local papers warns of possible risk of infection for some elderly, infants, people with suppressed immune systems, such as HIV and AIDS patients, people undergoing organ transplants, and those undergoing chemotherapy. Patients on kidney dialysis must have chloramine completely removed from the water used for dialysis treatment to prevent hemolytic anemia. CWD also alerted customers to the need to convert the water in their fish tanks to prevent the death of their fish. Why are Vermonters even being subjected to these possible risks?

As a customer and user of CWD's water, I find it very unfortunate that a company with such an excellent past record in its delivery of high-quality water, has introduced chloramine into the process without the following: (1) holding well publicized public hearings prior to the implementation to address any concerns; (2) doing so without the existence of respiratory, dermal and chronic toxicity studies on the effects chloramine on our health; (3) doing so when even the EPA says that cancer studies done to date are inadequate for assessment; and (4) doing so with the knowledge that any effective whole-house filtration system is very expensive and out of reach for many of its customers.

A citizens group has formed to address this issue. If interested in joining or informing it of any symptoms you are having, contact People Concerned about Chloramines (PCAC) at (802) 651-8753 or .

Joanne Davis

Burlington Free Press
July 16, 2006

What's in your drinking water?

Do you use water from Champlain Water District (CWD)? Are you receiving chemotherapy? Do you have an organ transplant? Do you have HIV/AIDS or other immune system challenges? Are you very elderly or have an infant? Recently CWD expressed concern that such people whose immune systems are weaker or compromised may be particularly at risk from infections and should seek advice from their health care providers.

Are health care providers aware of chloramines in the water, that chloramines are less effective than chlorination in killing bacteria, or what the health risks can be? Are they prepared to respond to people with infections and lowered immune systems resulting from exposure to their drinking water?

Besides drinking the water, you can be exposed to chloramines and chlorination byproducts through your skin and lungs. During a warm shower the contaminants enter the bloodstream through the lungs much faster than if you drink the water. The Environmental Protection Agency has failed to provide studies on dermal or inhalant effects of chloramines in drinking water. Taking cool, short showers, opening the bathroom door, turning on the exhaust fan, opening a window can help reduce your exposure. Boiling water does not remove chloramines.

If CWD improved their removal of organic matter from water in ways recommended by the World Health Organization, they could reduce the harmful byproducts of chlorination without using chloramines, and still protect your health. Hold them responsible to this task. It's your money, and it's your health at stake.


The Other Paper
May 25, 2006

Chloramine Concern

Dear Editor,

Do readers know that in April the disinfectant in the water from Champlain Water District (CWD) was switched from chlorine to chloramine, which is a combination of chlorine and ammonia, known for numerous respiratory, skin and digestive side effects? Affected towns are South Burlington, Shelburne, Williston, Winooski, Essex Jct., Essex, Jericho Village, Milton, Mallets Bay Water Cp., Colchester town and Colchester Fire Districts #1 and #3.

CWD is the first and only district in VT to use chloramines.

This is not the fluoride issue we heard so much about in Burlington.

The EPA states that there are no studies on skin and respiratory effects of low levels of chloramines and that the limited studies for cancer are inadequate.

Inexpensive carbon filters such as ones that screw on to the kitchen faucet or pour from a pitcher do not remove chloramines from water. Faucet-connecting filters that remove chloramines are extremely expensive and work for cold water only. In order to remove chloramines from water coming out of the shower (where the most exposure to chloramines occurs) a whole house filter is required and can cost from about $1200 - $15,000. To determine if your filter will work to remove chloramines, call toll free National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) 877-867-3435. The NSF independently tests and certifies only drinking water filtration products.

Many people in our area have reported recent mystifying trouble with burning eyes, burning eyes/skin, extremely dry skin, coughing, sneezing and wheezing, etc. We are a loosely knit group of people concerned about chloramines.

We are trying to gather information. If any readers have experienced possible effects or would simply like more information about chloramines, we would like to hear from you. You may call People Concerned About Chloramines at 651- 8753 or 862-4153, or email .

Thank You.
Rebecca Reno

(The area code for Vermont is 802.)

The Other Paper, The Colchester Sun, The Milton Independent, The Williston Observer, Seven Days, Vermont Woman
May 5, 2006

Water Quality

Dear Editor,

The Champlain Water District changed its disinfectant April 10th to chloramines, which are a combination of chlorine and ammonia. Shelburne, S. Burlington, Williston, Essex Jct., Essex, Jericho Village, Milton, Winooski, Mallets Bay Water Co., Colchester Town, Colchester Fire Districts #1 and #3.

My first chloraminated shower was not good. After showering I saw in the mirror that my eyes were quite bloodshot. When I got dressed and came downstairs they were really burning and tearing while feeling extremely dry- quite an odd sensation. By then my nose had started running. These symptoms took about 36 hours to abate.

Since then, I keep shower water out of my eyes. The burning/ tearing is somewhat improved. The runny nose has worsened, however, and I've started having sinus congestion. My skin has become exceedingly dry from bathing in chloraminated water. Last week I began using spring water to wash my face. The tap water was burning my eyes and drying out my face. My eyes still don't feel right.

Even my twenty-seven-year old wooden salad bowl is turning from a rich brown to dried-out dusty white as the oils appear to be sucked out of it. I have noticed others in my neck of the woods complaining of burning eyes and skin, dry skin, and skin rashes since the water was chloraminated.

Chloraminated water, if coming out of a broken pipe into a waterway, will kill fish, frogs and reptiles- in minutes.

A few others in my town and I can't be the only ones. Is anyone else having any symptoms like this? I would like to know, because if so, then I want something done about it- like get chloramines out of the water, test them, and in the meantime, go back to chlorine, which I can handle. My symptoms are worsening and I am concerned about this. Anyone else? If so, please let me know. Call or email 651-8753, .

Ellen Powell

(since this letter was published, Ellen Powell has formed a group in Vermont, People Concerned About Chloramines, 802 651-8753, 802 862-4153, )