Do you taste or smell chloramines (chlorine or ammonia)?

Helix Water District has been using ozone as its primary disinfectant since 2002. Chloramines, a combination of chlorine and ammonia, are added to the water at the end of the treatment process in order to maintain disinfection residual. The following are some answers to frequently asked questions on chloramines. If you have further questions, please call us at 619-667-6248 during business hours or at 619-466-3234 after hours.

  • What are chloramines?
    Chloramines are a combination of chlorine and ammonia and are one of several U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved disinfectants used to remove pathogenic (disease-causing) microorganisms in water. (Reference 1)
  • What are the benefits of chloramines versus chlorine?
    Chloramines last longer than chlorine in water and as a result, are better able to control microbiological growth and contamination. Chloramines create fewer byproducts, such as trihalomethanes (THMs). THMs form when chlorine mixes with natural organic substances in water. Generally, chloramines create far fewer taste and odor complaints than free chlorine alone. Additionally, Helix Water District uses ozone as part of its treatment process, further reducing taste and odor issues.
  • Are chloramines safe?
    Yes, chloramines have been safely used in the United States since the early 1900s, and are commonly used in southern California, across the nation, and worldwide. Chloraminated water is safe for the general public and for people with suppressed immune systems or other diseases. Like chlorine, chloramines will be safe for everyday uses like drinking, bathing, and cooking for people, dogs, and cats. However, as with chlorine, chloramines must be removed or neutralized for aquatic animals and kidney dialysis patients. (Reference 2)
  • How do I keep my aquatic animals safe?
    Just like chlorine, chloramines can harm all saltwater and freshwater fish, shellfish, amphibians, and some reptiles because they take chloramines directly into the bloodstream through their gills or skin. Pond and aquarium owners should purchase a water conditioner or filter to remove chloramines. Pet supply stores, aquarium shops, and veterinarians can advise customers on the best treatments for tanks and ponds.
    View Fish Owners
    Please note that although boiling water, reverse osmosis, salt additives, and letting water sit for a few days are practices sometimes used to remove chlorine, they do not remove chloramines.
  • How do chloramines affect kidney dialysis patients?
    Like chlorine, chloramines can harm kidney dialysis patients if they are not removed before water mixes with the patient's bloodstream. However, kidney dialysis patients can safely drink chloramines because the body naturally neutralizes them before they enter the bloodstream.
  • How do I remove chloramines for home brewing or home photo labs?
    Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) filters can be used to remove chloramines and other byproducts if the filter is followed by a reverse osmosis process. Several companies offer GAC filters and systems in San Diego county. Carbon filters need to be changed often.
  • Is it safe to wash an open wound with chlorinated water?
    Yes. It is safe to use chlorinated water in cleaning an open wound. (Reference 1 and 2)
  • What can I do for plumbing parts that may corrode due to chloramines?
    As rubber plumbing parts wear out, consumers should replace rubber plumbing components with chloramines-resistant materials such as: high-quality rubber (synthetic polymer) parts, flexible copper tubing, tubing made of corrugated stainless flex, or newer neoprene braided stainless steel.


Environmental Protection Agency. 1994. Drinking Water Criteria Document For Chloramines Final Draft ECAO-CIN-D002. March 1994. Chloramines-EPA-1994 (PDF)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NTP TR 392 Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Studies of Chlorinated Water (CAS Numbers 7782-50-5 and 7681-52-9) and Chloraminated Water (CAS Number 10599-90-3) (Deionized and Charcoal-Filtered) in F344/N Rats and B6C3F1 Mice (Drinking Water Studies) March 1992.

Show All Answers

1. Is there a metallic taste?
2. Is there a musty or earthy odor in only your hot water?
3. Is there a musty or earthy odor in both your hot and cold water?
4. Do you taste or smell chloramines (chlorine or ammonia)?
5. Does your water have a plastic or solvent odor?
6. Does your water have a rotten eggs odor?