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Granular Activated Carbon (GAC)

 

Activated Carbon Filters

Nearly all drinking water filters use carbon as the main or primary filtration method. Carbon filters are typically used to remove a wide variety of chemical pollutants and are very effective on organic chemicals (VOC's) such as herbicides, pesticides, industrial chemicals and are effective in removing Chlorine, bad tastes, smells and radon. A good quality carbon filter can remove 80 to 99 percent of the organic chemicals.

Activated carbon
is the type of carbon used in water filters, however, there are various forms of activated carbon. Not all activated carbon for use in water filters is created equal and will yield filtering effectiveness ranging from acceptable to excellent and widely varying service lifetimes.

Activated carbon
is manufactured by heating Wood, Coal, or Coconut Shells in a special process that creates millions of microscopic pores. It is these pores that attract and trap the pollutants. Activated carbon made from Coconut Shells is considered the best, and any buyer of a water purifier that uses activated carbon should only select a filter made with Coconut Shell carbon, as it has a longer service span, is very effective and uniform in its purifying capabilities, and be compliant with the California Prop 65 guidelines. Crystal Quest
® products are Coconut Shell based in all filtration systems and in full compliance with California Proposition 65.    Proposition 65
There are two forms or composition of activated carbon. They are granular and block, with the block type commonly referred to as being solid, or solid carbon block. With the granular type, the carbon granules are about the size of coarse sand, and the block type is a finely powdered carbon that has been bound together and compressed to form a rigid solid.

Specifically, Coconut Shell becomes activated by creating numerous microscopic pores in the charcoal. One method of accomplishing this is to heat the Coconut Shell for several hours in a special kiln or furnace at 1650-2300 degrees F (900-1260 C) and pass steam through it. This process removes hydrocarbons and other volatile substances, creating a complex network of pores, capillaries and fissures. The carbon is then crushed into small granules.

Activated carbon is a highly adsorbent and efficient material, and is used in gas masks, water filters, air filters and even used as a medicine.


Activated carbon has been known as a miracle filter media by many researchers because of its unique ability to remove offensive tastes, odors, color, chlorine and volatile organic chemicals, pesticides and trihalomethanes (a group of suspected carcinogens). Briefly, activated carbon acts like a sponge, with a large surface area to absorb contaminants in the water. The surface area of one pound of activated carbon is equal to 125 acres. Many scientists believe this is a result of an affinity that these chemicals have for carbon because of Van Der Waal forces. Activated carbon is the preferred treatment and method recommended by the EPA to remove a host of potentially hazardous and possibly carcinogenic chemicals in drinking water. Activated COCONUT SHELL carbon is recommended and endorsed by the U.S. Department of Energy.


The effectiveness of carbon filtration depends on several factors. The most important factor is the amount of time the water is in contact with the carbon, with a slower flow being more effective. The second factor is the density of the carbon (carbon block is denser than granulated carbon). The amount or quantity of carbon is another important factor that determines how effective the filter functions and for how long. Certainly, a larger filter will be more effective and last longer. When considering a home water purifier, the manufacturer or seller should provide the filters capabilities for both the gallon capacity and service life times. Obviously, the service life times depends on the amount of water that has passed through the filter and the amount of pollutants contained in the in-flow water.

The chart immediately presented below shows a comprehensive contaminant list regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act for public water systems. However, please NOTE many other hazardous contaminants exist in today's public and private well water supplies that are not considered for regulation. The informative data table gives the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL), its source and health effects.

A partial list of chemicals that are reduced or removed by Activated Carbon showing its broad and powerful ability in water purification are:
Chart Data Source: Water Technology, Directory Issue 1995

Organic

MCL

Source/Industrial occurrence

Health effect

Treatment

 Chlorobenzene

0.1

Used as a solvent for paint and metal manufacturing. Also used in insecticides.

Affects nervous system, kidneys and liver.

Activated carbon

CIS-1,2  Dichloroethylene

0.07

Used as an industrial solvent in the manufacturing of dyes, perfumes  and lacquers

Affects liver, and a nervous and circulatory systems. Probable cause of cancer.

Activated carbon

Dibromochloropropane

0.0002

Soil fumigant on soybeans, and cotton. Canceled in 1997.

Cancer

Activated carbon

Dioxin

0.00000003

Chemical production by-product; impurity in herbicides.

Affects lungs, liver and kidney. Probable cause of cancer.

Activated carbon

Epichlorohydrin 0 Used in epoxy resins and coating, and in flocculants. Affects nervous system, kidney and liver. Activated carbon
Ethlbenzene 0.7 Used in the manufacture of gasoline, insecticides and  asphalt Probable cause of cancer Activated carbon
Ethylene Dibromide 0.00005 Used as a gasoline additive and soil fumigant. Affects nervous system, kidneys and liver. Activated carbon
Monochlorobenzene 0.01 Used in manufacture of pesticides and as a metal cleaner and industrial solvent. Cancer Activated carbon
PAHs 0.0002 Coal tar coating, burnings organic matter, volcanoes, fossil fuels. Cancer Activated carbon
Phthalate
(di(2-ethylhexyl))
0.006 PVC and other plastics. Affects skin and liver. Causes nausea. Probable cause of cancer. Activated carbon
Polychlorinated
Biophenyts (PCBs)
0.0005 Used in electrical transformers. Affect nervous system, kidneys and liver. Activated carbon
Styrene 0.01 Used in manufacturing plastic, resins and foams. Affects nervous system. Probable cause of cancer and anesthesia Activated carbon
Tetrachloroethylene 0.005 Used in dry cleaning and as a degreasing agent for metals. Also used for manufacturing rubber, waxes, paints and inks. Affects nervous system, liver and kidneys. Causes narcosis. Irritant to respiratory system. Activated carbon
Toluene 1 Used in gasoline, paint thinners, lacquers and adhesives. Cancer Activated carbon, ozonation
 
Total Trihalomethanes
(THM's):
Chloroform
Bromoform
Bromodichloromethane
Dibromochloromethane
 
0.01 Formed when water containing organic matter is treated with chlorine. ffects nervous system and muscles. Probable cause of cancer. Activated carbon, aeration, ultra filtration (20-90%), RO (20-90%)
1,1 Dichloroethylene 0.007 Used in manufacturing dyes, plastic, perfumes, paints and adhesives Affects kidneys and liver and can cause nausea. Activated carbon
1,1,2-Trichloroethane 0.005 Solvent in rubber products, chemical production waste. Kidney, liver, nervous system damage Activated carbon, aeration
1,1,1-Trichloroethane 0.02 Used in manufacturing of pesticides, plastic and metals. Affects nervous system. Causes narcosis and probably cancer. Activated carbon
1,2 Dichlorobenzene 0.6 Used in the manufacturing of fumigants, insecticides, waxes, resins, rubber and asphalt Affects lungs, liver and kidneys. Activated carbon
1,2 Dichloroethane 0.005 Used in the manufacturing of gasoline, paint, varnish, metal degreasers and insecticide fumigants Damage kidney and liver can cause nausea Activated carbon
1,2 Dichloropropane 0.005 Used in insecticide fumigants, dry cleaning fluids and in manufacturing of resins, waxes and petroleum products Affects lungs, liver and kidneys. Activated carbon
1,2,4-Trichlorobenzene 0.07 Herbicide production; dye carrier. Liver, kidney damage Activated carbon, aeration
1,4 Dichlorobenzene 0.075 Used in moth repellent, germicides, pesticides and soil fumigants. Affects nervous system, liver and kidneys. Probable cause of cancer. Activated carbon
Acrytamide 0 Flocculants used in sewage and wastewater treatment. Affect nervous system, probable cause of cancer. Activated carbon
Adipates 0.4 Synthetic rubber, food packaging, cosmetics. Decreased body weight; liver and testes damage. Activated carbon, aeration
Benzene 0.005 Used in fuels and as a solvent in manufacturing pharmaceuticals, plastics, pesticides and paints. Often traced to leaking underground storage tanks. Leukemia, anemia and possibly cancer Activated carbon
Trans-1,2
Dichloroethylene
0.1 Used as an industrial solvent in the manufacturing of dyes, perfumes, lacquers and rubber. Affects liver, and nervous and circulatory systems Activated carbon, ozonation with UV irradiation
Trichloroethylene 0.1 Used in dry cleaning and as a degreasing agent. Also used for manufacturing rubber, paints, adhesives, resins, oils and fumigants. Irritates body tissue. Affects nervous system. Probable cause of cancer. Activated carbon
Vinyl Chloride 0.005 Used as a plastic adhesive and refrigerant. The main component of PVC pipe Affects nervous system. Probable cause of cancer. Activated carbon
Xyienes 0.002 Used in manufacturing paint, ink, petroleum and detergents. Affects nervous system, kidneys, lungs, liver and mucous membranes. Activated carbon

Pesticides

 
Aldicarb
Aldicarb Sulfone
Aldicarb Sulfoxide
Carboturan
 

10

0.003

0.002

0.004

Agricultural insecticide Affects nervous system, respiratory system, kidneys and liver. Probable cause of cancer. Activated carbon
Chlordane 0.04 Used on rodents, insects, birds. Restricted since 1980. Affects nervous system, respiratory system, kidneys and liver. Probable cause of cancer Activated carbon
Endrin 0.0002 Agricultural insecticide. Liver, kidneys, heart damage. Activated carbon
Heptachlor 0.0004 Agricultural insecticide. Converts to expoxide by soil and water organisms Affects nervous system, respiratory system, kidneys and liver. Probable cause of cancer. Activated carbon
Heptachlor Expoxide 0.0002 Pesticide production by-product. Affects nervous system, respiratory system, kidneys and liver. Probable cause of cancer. Activated carbon
Hexachlorobenzene 0.001 Pesticide production by-product. Cancer Activated carbon
Hexachlorocyclop -entadiene

0.05

 

Agricultural insecticide. Cancer Activated carbon, aeration
Lindane 0.0002 Agricultural insecticide. Affects nervous system, respiratory system, kidneys and liver. Probable cause of cancer. Activated carbon
Methoxychlor 0.04 Insecticide used on apples, potatoes, tomatoes. Affects nervous system, respiratory system, kidneys and liver. Probable cause of cancer. Activated carbon
Oxamyl   Agricultural insecticide. Kidney damage. Activated carbon

Herbicides

 
2,4-D
2,4,5-TP (silver)
Alachlor
Alrazine
 

0.07

0.05

0.002

0.003

Agricultural  herbicides Affect nervous and reproductive system, respiratory system, kidneys, liver and heart. Causes anesthesia. Probable cause of cancer. Activated carbon
Dalapon 0.2 Herbicide used on orchards, beans, coffee, lawn, roads and railway. Liver, kidney damage. Activated carbon
Dinoseb 0.007 Runoff of herbicide from crop and non crop applications. Thyroid, reproduction organ damage. Activated carbon
Diquat 0.02 Runoff of herbicide on land and aquatic weeds. Liver, kidneys, eye effects. Activated carbon
Endothall 0.01 Used on crops, land and aquatic weeds. Liver, kidney and gastrointestinal damage. Activated carbon
Glyphosphate 0.7 Used on grass, weeds, brush Liver, kidney damage Activated carbon
Pentachlorophenol 0.001 Agricultural herbicide and wood preservative. Affects nervous and reproductive system, respiratory system, kidneys, liver and heart. Causes anesthesia. Probable cause of cancer. Activated carbon
Picloram 0.5 Used on broadleaf and woody plants. Kidney, liver damage. Activated carbon
Simazine 0.004 Used on grass sod, some crop, aquatic algae. Cancer. Activated carbon

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