Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner should leave the issue of chloramines alone until the federal government releases its study of the long-term health effects of the chemical sometime next year.
Reiner and his special assistant for occupational safety and health, Jan Chatten-Brown, have accused Metropolitan Water District officials of misleading the public on the safety of chloramines, a new chemical purifier being introduced into the Met system. Whatever evidence exists about the safety of chloramines supports the water district, and Reiner's unnecessary alarmism is more misleading than the Met's literature.
Reiner says that recent scientific studies show chloramines to be potentially dangerous to infants and people with low stomach acids. These studies, however, are inconclusive, and it seems highly unlikely that doctors and health officials in cities that have used chloramines for 60 years would not have noticed adverse effects on infants by now. Chloramines does pose a serious threat to kidney-dialysis patients, but dialysis centers and personal physicians here and around the country have learned to filter chloramines from the water. If chloramines does indeed adversely affect another group of at-risk people, that group's water also could be treated.
Reiner challenged the Met because it used the word safe in its pamphlet to customers to describe chloramines. The district relies on state and federal regulations to guide policy decisions, and those regulations say that the use of chloramines is "a safe and effective means of disinfection." Reiner's studies do not by any means prove that chloramines is unsafe.