Health Department Offers Expanded Information on Monochloramine

For Immediate Release: Feb. 5, 2008
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
802-863-7281

BURLINGTON – The Vermont Department of Health is offering expanded information and resources about the use of monochloramine as a drinking water disinfectant on its website at healthvermont.gov – or by calling Vermont 2-1-1.

Also, anyone who is a Champlain Water District customer and who has a medical or health problem they believe is related to monochloramine can dial
2-1-1 and get connected to a Health Department representative (Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). The Health Department can also make referrals to a medical specialist, if needed.

In April 2006, the Champlain Water District (CWD) became the first water system in Vermont to switch from chlorine to monochloramine for secondary disinfection of the water it supplies to nearly 68,000 consumers in Chittenden County.

CWD serves Shelburne, South Burlington, Williston, Essex Junction, Essex, Jericho Village, Milton, Winooski, Mallets Bay Water Company, Colchester Town and Colchester Fire Districts #1 and #3. Burlington has a separate system and does not use monochloramine.

Since CWD made the switch, the Health Department has heard from a number of individuals and anti-chloramine groups with questions and with medical or health concerns they believe are a result of using monochloramined water.

To help answer these consumer questions, the Health Department will continue expanding information on its website – and 2-1-1 can help people who do not have internet access. Vermont 2-1-1, a program of United Ways of Vermont, offers information and referral access to health and human services in Vermont.

Drinking water drawn from surface water sources such as Lake Champlain must be disinfected to kill bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms that can cause serious illness and death. Chlorine is used for primary disinfection (at the treatment plant). Most water systems in the U.S. also use chlorine for secondary or "residual" disinfection (after the water leaves the treatment plan and as it travels through pipes to reach the consumer’s tap). However, monochloramine has also been used for this purpose for nearly 90 years. Monochloramine is currently used by systems serving more than 68 million people.

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