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How Much Chlorine is in Tap Water?

By: Craig Smith
Published on:
How Much Chlorine is in Tap Water?

As America progressed into the 1900’s people were begging for water that looked clearer and safer to drink. With advances in mass water treatment, that not only became possible but even the norm.

So much so, that nowadays many people assume that with their drinking water quality being more clear, it also means that water is 100% safe to drink. Unfortunately, many times that’s not the case.

Some of the most commonly found impurities of concern in tap water, especially when it comes from a municipal water supply, is chlorine and the DBPs it creates when it reacts with other substances.

How much chlorine is in tap water? 

That’s hard to say because everywhere around the country there are different chlorine treatment  levels used but if there is too much chlorine in your water, then it can be very detrimental to you and your family’s health. 

I am all too familiar with how effective chlorine is at establishing good water quality and why you don’t want to ingest too much of it from working with this popular chemical used to sanitize swimming pool water for over 25-years. 

That’s why I am about to go over here with you such chlorinated water-related facts as to what the safe chlorine levels in drinking water are, why chlorine is often found in household water, and some effective methods to remove it if you have too much of it in your water. 

How Effective is Chlorination?

Chlorination is described as adding chlorine to water for disinfection. It was first used in drinking water disinfection in the United States as far back as 1908 (Jersey City, NJ). 

At present, approximately 64% of municipal water treatment systems add chlorine as a disinfectant.

The main goal of chlorination is to kill problematic waterborne diseases such as those that cause typhoid, salmonella, dysentery, norovirus, cholera, E coli, Legionnaires’ disease, and more.   

Chlorine and chloramines were the chemical of choice as a drinking water disinfectant because they are extremely effective when it comes to killing viruses, bacteria, and other harmful microorganisms.

It’s the main reason that the same chlorine that is used to disinfect drinking water is also used to sanitize swimming pools. 

There are only a very few pathogens such as giardia, hepatitis A, and cryptosporidium that are chlorine tolerant to varying levels. Against most other pathogens drinking water chlorination is very effective.    

Another highly trusted method to kill pathogens is through the use of chloramines (containing chlorine and ammonia). A process that’s called chloramination.  

How Much Chlorine is Usually Found in Tap Water?

chlorine

Chlorine levels found in household water vary all across the country. Much of this depends on the drinking water supply source. You are much more likely to have high chlorine levels in your water if it’s city water as opposed to having a well.

Therefore, the question of how much chlorine is usually found in chlorinated tap water is best answered by testing your drinking water. Testing your home’s water with a water test kit is something that I strongly recommend you do if you have never done it or if you have not done it in a long time.

This is not only so you are aware of how much chlorine is present in your home’s water but to see if there are any other harmful contaminants present in it that you should be concerned about too.

You should not be surprised if you find some nasty impurities in your water after you have had it tested. That’s because our municipal drinking water supplies across the country are not as tightly regulated for acceptable contaminant levels as we are sometimes led to believe.

There are many good water testing kits available online. These can be used to test your home’s water in one of two ways. This includes:

Using A Home Water Test Kit

test-strips

This is a very easy way to test the water in your home for chlorine and get fast results. Usually, it’s done by dipping test strips or placing drops into samples of your drinking water or by using a combination of both.

The biggest drawback to testing your water yourself is the accuracy of the results and you will only be able to test for a small number of contaminants.

A good home test for determining the chlorine levels in your drinking water supply is the 16 in 1 Drinking Water Test Kit from Hofun.

Purchasing A Kit Online for Professional Lab Testing

If you want extremely accurate chlorine testing results, then professional lab analysis is the way to go. It’s not only a good way to determine chlorinated water content but also will give you an idea of your overall water quality. 

You just have to order a kit online and when it arrives, fill the included water sample containers to the appropriate level and return them in the included prepaid envelope to the associated lab for analysis.

A few days after the parcel arrives, you will get an email with a detailed readout of the chlorine levels and the levels of the other water contaminants that the test detects.

tap-score

I don’t think you can ever go wrong by purchasing a Tap Score Brand Lab Test to accomplish this.

Safe Levels of Chlorine in Drinking Water

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) along with the CDC has determined that the safe level of chlorinated drinking water is 4 milligrams per liter which can also be termed 4 parts per million (ppm).

Other established health authorities such as the World Health Organization (WHO) use a similar benchmark limit of 5 milligrams per liter or 5 parts per million of chlorine in drinking water.

Whatever the case, these trusted health watchdog organizations agree that you do not want to take too much chlorine into your body regularly. It makes a hard choice whether to add it to water or not to kill harmful organisms. 

Minor chlorinated water exposure has been linked to such negative health effects as headaches, nausea, blurred vision, digestive problems, respiratory issues, watery eyes, and discomfort. 

Long-term exposure to high levels of chlorine has been linked to fluid buildup in the lungs (pulmonary edema) and gastrointestinal, colorectal, and other cancers.

Disinfection Byproducts

Chlorine is used so widely as a disinfectant because of its ability to react with organic material but this comes with some drawbacks. These disinfectant reactions sometimes produce byproducts that are worse to consume than chlorine itself.

There are hundreds of byproducts that can be created when chlorine disinfection is undertaken. Some of the most concerning disinfection byproducts (DBPs) are haloacetic acids (HAAs), trihalomethanes (THMs), chlorite, and bromate.

All of which have levels in drinking water that are strictly regulated by the CDC because of known health risks of exposure such as various forms of cancer.

Municipal water that is obtained from reservoirs and other surface bodies of water tends to produce higher levels of DPBs.

How to Reduce Disinfection Byproducts

Normally when I get to this point in one of my articles, I will get ready to write down reverse osmosis (RO) filters but this type of filtration is not as impactful when it comes to removing or significantly reducing chlorine and its byproducts when acting alone.

That’s why drinking water chlorine removal is best done through the use of activated carbon filtration media. The word filtration is not totally appropriate when it comes to describing activated carbon filters either.

This is because these types of filters have a huge amount of surface area that ‘absorbs’ as opposed to ‘filtering out’ chlorine and DBPs.

Filtration systems that make use of activated carbon are found in the best whole-house water filters (point-of-entry systems) and many point-of-use (POU) water filtration devices.

SpringWell-WS-Whole-House-Water-Filter

Point-of-entry water treatment systems that use activated carbon filters give you the advantage of removing or significantly reducing chlorine from 100% of the water that comes into your home.

waterdrop

Point-of-use drinking water filtration devices such as countertop filters, under-sink filters, and tap water filter pitchers have the advantage of being lower in cost and some are even portable.   

Expanding upon what I said earlier about RO systems, if you purchase a good reverse osmosis filtration system that has an activated carbon filter stage, it will effectively remove or reduce most of the chlorine in your drinking water that passes through it.

Conclusion

I don’t believe there is any reason for you and your family members to take large amounts of chlorine or its DBPs into your body regularly.

That’s because many good ways have been developed to remove or significantly reduce chlorine and its associated DBPs from the water that you and your family drink.

Some of these methods are as simple and inexpensive as purchasing a gravity-fed water filter that you can place on your countertop or a drinking water filter pitcher that you can fill and store in your fridge. 

You can also check out the best chlorine filters on the market if you are just concerned with reducing your chlorine levels.

So, if you don’t have a water filtration device that removes chlorine from your home’s water, and you have city water treated with chlorine, then I urge you to strongly consider purchasing one. 

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AUTHOR
Craig Smith
Craig got his start in water working in the swimming pool and spa industry. Water treatment would grow into his main career but he ended up working in the pool industry for over 26 years where much of his time was spent balancing the water in customer's swimming pools and installing water filtration equipment. Craig offers an abundance of water treatment knowledge after helping homeowners get pure water for 26 years.

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