Ammonia in Drinking Water

Ammonia is a gaseous compound of hydrogen and nitrogen that is highly soluble in water. Ammonia in water is colorless and has a pungent odor. Ammonia creates smelly water that is often described as water that stinks. It is found in water as a normal biological degradation product of nitrogenous organic protein naturally degrades.  It is also in ground and surface waters via waste from industrial processes containing ammonia and fertilizers. Ammonia is used to extend the effectiveness of chlorine disinfection in municipal treatment system drinking water. The use of ammonia creates the chloramines which can create objectionable tastes in drinking water.

In the US as of 2019, approximately 88% of ammonia was used as fertilizers either as its salts, solutions or anhydrously.  As a fertilizer it helps increase yields of crops such as corn and wheat. 

HEALTH EFFECTS OF AMMONIA IN DRINKING WATER - There is no EPA mandated Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for ammonia. However, ammonia is very toxic to fish. 

TREATMENT METHODS TO REMOVE AMMONIA FROM WATER - Ion Exchange with zeolite (POE - Point of Entry) and distillation can be used for POU-Point of Use applications.  Other POU methods are ammonia selective cartridge devices based on zeolite, GAC and/or cation exchange.

CAUTIONS - Solutions of ammonia are used to manufacture household cleaners, particularly for cleaning glass. These solutions are irritating to the eyes and mucous membranes (respiratory and digestive tracts), and to a lesser extent the skin. Caution should be used that the chemical is never mixed into any liquid containing bleach, as a toxic gas may result. Mixing with chlorine-containing products or strong oxidants, such as household bleach, can generate chloramines.


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Recycle your used water filters the easy way at


Recycle your used water filters the easy way at