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Chloramines are the reaction products of hypochlorous acid and ammonia. Mono, di-, and tri-chloramine can form depending on the pH and the hypochlorous acid: ammonia ratio used. Since, in drinking water applications, hypochlorous acid is typically generated by adding gaseous chlorine to water, chloramine reaction chemistry is normally expressed in terms of the Cl2:NH3 ratio.

Chloramines are disinfectants used to treat drinking water. Monochloramine is a significantly more effective disinfectant than either di-or trichloramine. Monochloramine generation is optimized at pH 8 – 8.4 and at Cl2:NH3 ratios of 3 – 5:1.

Chloramines have the following advantages over Cl2 as distribution system disinfectants:

  • Form significantly lower amounts of TTHMs and HAA-5s.
  • Exhibit greater persistency, which generally translates to better protection against bacteria regrowth.
  • Generally cause fewer taste and odor complaints.

Disadvantages of chloramine usage include:

  • Greater difficulty in regulating residual levels.
  • Tendency to support nitrification, which, in turn, increases the likelihood of Pb and Cu release in distribution systems.
  • The need to remove chloramine residuals from water prior to its use in dialysis machines and aquariums.

Drinking water plants have historically used gaseous chlorine and anhydrous ammonia for producing chloramines. Due to safety considerations, plants are starting to consider using hypochlorite generators and liquid ammonia sulfate (LAS) for this service. The theoretical LAS replacement ratio for anhydrous ammonia is 10:1. However, since LAS-delivered ammonia experiences no vapor loss, lower replacement ratios have been achieved. Unlike anhydrous ammonia, LAS is stable, odorless, non-toxic, non-irritating and does not emit ammonia vapors.

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