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Safety Of Chloramine Questioned By Clean Water Activists

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The Mon River is the water source for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania American Water customers.

Next month, that water will be undergoing a new treatment process involving chloramine, a mixture of chlorine and a smaller amount of ammonia. But the water company says not to worry.

"Chloramine is a safe, commonly used disinfectant," Gary Lobaugh of Pennsylvania American Water said.

But Myron Arnowitt of Clean Water Action says there's evidence that chloramine can create dangerous byproducts in the water you'll be drinking and bathing in.

"One of the problems with chloramine is that we don't know enough about it," he said. " It does create disinfectant byproducts just like chlorine, and there's some evidence that it can cause cancer as well, but it's not well-studied and that's the problem."

Carnegie Mellon's Jeanne VanBreisen says the chloramine has been in use for more than half a century and the study has been ample.

"So this is tried and true technology," she said. "We're very aware of how it works in drinking water plants."

VanBriesen says like chlorine byproducts are created but there's no evidence that they cause cancer or any other serious health effects and that Penn American customers should not be worried.

"They will still be getting water that meets all of the regulatory standards," she said. "I would not be concerned about drinking chloraminated water."

Still, activists are calling on Pennsylvania American to halt the new treatment until further study is conducted. And until there is that further study, critics will remain skeptical but in the meantime more major systems are switching over to chloramine proclaiming it safe.

Pennsylvania American Water
EPA: Chloramine In Drinking Water
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