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Old 09-27-2010, 10:16 PM   #1
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Default Can labs test for chloramine or perchlorate?

I asked Ward labs whether they could test for chloramine and perchlorate, and they said no on both counts. Dr. Ward came on the phone and told me that nobody had ever asked for either of these, and he wasn't sure how they would test for them anyway. He wished me luck but warned me that he thought it would be hard to find someone to do these tests.

I would like to have the effect of campden tablets measured. I know what it is supposed to do, and I understand that the risk is low, but I really, really like measuring things. I like the mantra "Trust but Verify" (which to me really means the same as "Don't Trust, therefore Verify").

I also have heard that there used to be perchlorate factories in the vicinity of my house. I don't get my water from the ground nearby, but I have heard lots of bad stuff about perchlorate, and I would love to have some peace of mind on the subject.

Can anyone recommend a lab that can measure chloramine or perchlorate?

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Old 09-28-2010, 02:52 AM   #2
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I asked Ward labs whether they could test for chloramine and perchlorate, and they said no on both counts. Dr. Ward came on the phone and told me that nobody had ever asked for either of these, and he wasn't sure how they would test for them anyway. He wished me luck but warned me that he thought it would be hard to find someone to do these tests.
That's a strange reaction. You can test for chloramine qualitatively quite easily. Take a sample of the water and let it stand in a tumbler over night. In the morning, pour the sample into another tumbler while sniffing it. If you can smell chlorine then the water contains chloramine (any chlorine will have escaped during the stand). You can also measure it yourself quantitatively with an inexpensive (relatively) kit which you can find out about at http://www.hach.com/hc/search.produc...CemcxTmpNMg==|

$65 for 100 tests for free and total chlorine (chloramine is the difference).

You could also work with just a total chlorine kit (probably get one from an aquarium supply or pet store). Just let the water stand over night (or perhaps 2 nights) and then measure the total chlorine. Whatever chlorine in still in the water after 2 nights of standing is in the form of chloramine.

Perchlorate is a different matter. The fact that Hach doesn't sell a kit for it and that Standard Methods doesn't have a method for it tells me that it probably is not a problem in drinking water supplies (though California has an MCL of 6 ug/L for it). Vogel's says you can isolate it by using sulfur dioxide to reduce all chlorate to chloride, precipitating the chloride with silver sulfate (and the excess silver with sodium carbonate) then evaporating the solution to dryness and heating to dull red in the presence of a little lime. This converts the perchlorate to chloride which you could then test for using a chloride method. I certainly have no experience with this!

EPA has an (elaborate) ion chromatography procedure which you can see at http://www.caslab.com/EPA-Methods/PD...Method-314.pdf and this CASLAB outfit says they may or may not be offering the test. I'd expect it to be pretty expensive.




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I also have heard that there used to be perchlorate factories in the vicinity of my house. I don't get my water from the ground nearby, but I have heard lots of bad stuff about perchlorate...
Unless there was a fireworks or rocket fuel factory nearby or rocket fuel storage facility I wouldn't think that likely. I'd try to confirm that with local authorities before going too far with (i.e. spending the money for) perchlorate testing.

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Can anyone recommend a lab that can measure chloramine or perchlorate?
Any lab that does water testing (except Ward Labs, apparently) ought to be able to do free and total chlorine for you. Search the web under EPA Method 314 and you should be able to find labs equipped/willing to do that test.
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Old 09-28-2010, 12:32 PM   #3
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Dr. Ward came on the phone and told me that nobody had ever asked for either of these,
I think its time we start asking then!!! I'm pretty sure Bobby M. suggested to Ward Labs that they offer a test strictly for homebrewers which would be like their basic test plus test for chloramine/chlorine. Apparently the message hasn't gotten to the top.
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Old 09-28-2010, 01:18 PM   #4
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I think its time we start asking then!!! I'm pretty sure Bobby M. suggested to Ward Labs that they offer a test strictly for homebrewers which would be like their basic test plus test for chloramine/chlorine. Apparently the message hasn't gotten to the top.
I dunno. You can assume that your water vendor is complying with the law and therefore total chlorine is 5 ppm (IIRC) or less and just add the 20th of a cent worth of campden.

Like AJ said, it's pretty easy to tell if there is any in there. Do you want to know exactly how much there is on a given day? It will change from day to day (total chlorine and free vs total).

Here is another problem, much of the chloramine in your water sample will be chlorine by the time ward labs tests it, is that acceptable if you do indeed want detail?
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Old 09-28-2010, 01:24 PM   #5
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I dunno. You can assume that your water vendor is complying with the law and therefore total chlorine is 5 ppm (IIRC) or less and just add the 20th of a cent worth of campden.

Like AJ said, it's pretty easy to tell if there is any in there. Do you want to know exactly how much there is on a given day? It will change from day to day (total chlorine and free vs total).

Here is another problem, much of the chloramine in your water sample will be chlorine by the time ward labs tests it, is that acceptable if you do indeed want detail?
Excellent points.
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Old 09-28-2010, 02:16 PM   #6
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Aren't these things your water supplier should have to disclose? I know that chloramines are a regualted chemical, so I think they are required by the EPA to make that availibe to you. Perchlorate is an unregulated containment and they are required to monitor those levels too, so again, they should be able to tell you the level. (Both of these chemicals are on my local "Water Quality Standards of the Safe Drinking Water Act" report.)

But if you think the levels are different in your home vs. what the are sending out of the plant, you might ask you local water guys if they would re-test your tap. They have the equipment and might be willing to help you out. Beyond that, I would contact the EPA, I am sure they can recommend a lab.

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Old 09-28-2010, 02:58 PM   #7
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Aren't these things your water supplier should have to disclose? I know that chloramines are a regualted chemical, so I think they are required by the EPA to make that availibe to you. Perchlorate is an unregulated containment and they are required to monitor those levels too, so again, they should be able to tell you the level. (Both of these chemicals are on my local "Water Quality Standards of the Safe Drinking Water Act" report.)

But if you think the levels are different in your home vs. what the are sending out of the plant, you might ask you local water guys if they would re-test your tap. They have the equipment and might be willing to help you out. Beyond that, I would contact the EPA, I am sure they can recommend a lab.
Well it will be different at your tap as you will continuously get chloramine -> free chlorine and that is continuously evolving from solution.

More importantly it will be different day to day at the tap depending on the time the water takes to get from the plant to the tap, the microbiological content of the water and other factors. At the end of the day you are still well advised to treat the water with plenty of campden or filter it in a way that reliably removes chloramine and chlorine.
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Old 09-28-2010, 04:30 PM   #8
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I think he was interested in seeing the effects of campden tablets which can only practically be done if he tests himself. If he puts 1/4 tablet in 20 gallons and takes a sample, then adds another 1/4 and takes a sample and does that twice more to see how much he really needs (1/4, 1/2, 3/4 , whole) by the time he's paid for the 4 tests he'll probably have spent more than the $65 cost of the kit.

Then there is the seasonal variation aspect of it.

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Old 09-29-2010, 06:19 AM   #9
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I think he was interested in seeing the effects of campden tablets which can only practically be done if he tests himself. If he puts 1/4 tablet in 20 gallons and takes a sample, then adds another 1/4 and takes a sample and does that twice more to see how much he really needs (1/4, 1/2, 3/4 , whole) by the time he's paid for the 4 tests he'll probably have spent more than the $65 cost of the kit.

Then there is the seasonal variation aspect of it.
That's exactly what I will do. Thanks!
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