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Does Tulsa Chlorinate the Water?

This may not be a subject you’re familiar with, or even worried about, but it may beChlorine of concern to your plumbing and your health over time. Tulsa began adding chloramine to the water in 2012, and as expected, it was a controversial topic amongst the city. Chloramine is between 3 to 5 parts chlorine to 1 part ammonia.

What is Chlorine?

Chlorine is generally used as a cleaning agent. The chemical is naturally corrosive and can affect your pipes and also harm your body. Here are a few of chlorine’s characteristics and uses:

  • It has an irritating odor similar to bleach.

  • Chlorine is not flammable, but may react explosively with many common substances or flammable materials.

  • It’s a yellow-green gas at room temperature.

  • Chlorine is used in the preparation of pesticides, polymers, refrigerants and synthetic rubbers.

  • The health effects of chlorine are primarily due to its corrosive properties.

How Can Chlorine Affect Health?

The health effects from chlorine exposure can begin within minutes. The severity of the symptoms will be largely dependant on the amount of chlorine and the route and duration of exposure. Exposure can occur via several routes.

Inhalation
Chlorine inhalation is the most common form of exposure. Low level exposures to chlorine in the air will produce immediate effects such as eye irritation, sore throat and cough. Nasal passages will eventually adapt to the smell of chlorine which makes it difficult to recognize prolonged exposure.

High level chlorine exposure can cause more serious health effects such as wheezing, coughing and difficulty breathing.

Contact
Irritation can occur if chlorine makes contact with the eyes or skin. In severe cases, ulcerations or chemical burns can happen.

Ingestion
Ingestion is unlikely due to the fact that chlorine is a gas at room temperature. However, if chlorine is dissolved in water, it can cause corrosive damage to the stomach and intestines.

While chlorine has been studied for its health effects, chloramine has not.

How Can Chlorine Affect Plumbing?

Water pipes are made from either plastic, concrete or metal. While plastic and concrete pipes are generally resistant to corrosion, metal pipes are not. When metal pipe corrosion occurs, it is because of the electrochemical electron exchange resulting from the differential properties between metals, aquatic buffering, the ionic influences of solutions or the solution pH.

Various chlorine disinfectants also act as acids and have the potential to reduce pH which can interfere with corrosion protection. A pH below 7.0 creates highly corrosive water, but a pH above approximately 7.8 greatly diminishes chlorine’s disinfectant efficacy.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a Lead and Copper Rule that requires all water systems to be monitored for lead and copper. The frequency of testing is determined by population size and the results of previous tests. If a certain percentage of samples exceed the proper levels, water systems will adjust the pH, buffer intensity, alkalinity and concentrations of calcium, phosphates and magnesium in the water as needed.

Are Your Pipes at Risk?

Lead and copper are rarely detected in most drinking water supplies. However, if they are detected, these metals can be a health concern to consumers. Because some household plumbing fixtures contain lead or copper, corrosive waters can pick up these metals from pipes where they can enter the water supply. This is a greater issue for older houses with old pipes.

All waters contain metals that cause water to have properties characterized as hardness and softness. If hard water is present, there is less concern that the water will pick up metals from plumbing pipes. However, it is more likely that deposits will build up on the inside of pipes. If water is soft, it is less likely that deposits will build up on the inside of pipes.

Testing your water is the only way to find out if it’s hard or soft.

  • Soft water has 0-17.1 mg/L of minerals.

  • Slightly hard water has 16.1-60 mg/L of minerals.

  • Moderately hard water has 61-120 mg/L of minerals.

  • Hard water has 121-180 mg/L of minerals.

  • Very hard water has more than 180 mg/L of minerals.

To ensure you’re aware of your water’s levels, kits can be purchased for testing. A typical water hardness test kit uses water strips with a color chart. After getting the strip wet, simply match the color on the strip against the color chart to see the hardness of your water sample.

If your testing kit determines you have hard water, here are a few things you can do to soften it:

  • Buy a small ion exchange filter.

  • Purchase a water softener.

  • For laundry, add a non-precipitating water conditioner.


For peace of mind about your pipes, don’t hesitate to contact the experts at Raby Plumbing. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so there’s no need to wait to have your plumbing questions answered fast.

Resources found on our website are provided as general guidelines, and Raby Plumbing does not assume any liability resulting from the provided information.

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