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Adsorption in activated carbon is an important tool for water purification. It applies especially to dissolved organic substances which are responsible for taste or odor, or may actually be of an irritating or poisonous nature. Also, activated charcoal removes some substances by catalytic reaction (chlorine, for example). Activated carbon also removes certain types of particulate matter by mechanical filtration action, and some substances such as a suspension of an organic vapor by a combination of filtration and adsorption means.

The capacity of activated carbon to remove specific substances and mixtures depends on the nature of the specific chemical compounds, their concentration, conditions of adsorption, such as temperature, pressure, contact time, etc., and how the activated carbon is applied to the problem.

The accompanying table classifies the ability to be removed for specific chemical compounds and describable substances and mixtures according to the following- arbitrary scale
0 - Not a logical use for activated carbon.
1 - Category too broad and non-specific, need more information.
2 - Possibility. Suggest making laboratory and pilot tests. Success may be a matter of definition.
3 - Might be an application, either alone or in combination with other treatment methods.
4 - May be good solution, but special conditions apply, or activated carbon can serve as one step in total treatment. may not be a complete solution in itself.
5 - Fair application, removed to some degree by activated carbon. Good application, but requires definition of results to be obtained.
6 - Definite application for activated carbon under some conditions.
7 - Good application, removed in satisfactory quantity by activated carbon.
8 - Excellent application, removed in high quantity by activated carbon.
9 - Proven use, probably best solution.

Since the above mentioned factors exert considerable control over capacity, it must be borne in mind that the figures given in the table are for general guidance only. The specific case should be tested on laboratory and pilot scale if it is a new application.

Accidental spills of toxic materials 7
Acetaldehyde 7
Acetic add 7
Acetone 8
Activated sludge effluent 6
Air purification scrub water 6
Alcohol 8
Alkali 2
Amines 6
Ammonia 2
Amyl acetate 9
Amyl alcohol 9
Animal excrement 6
Antifreeze 7
Aquarium water 7
Benzenes 9
Bilge water 6
Biochemical warfare agents 6
Bleaching solutions 3 9
Boiler blowdown water 3
Boiler compounds 4
Boiler condensate 6
Bottle washing 6
Brackish water 3
Butyl acetate 9
Butyl alcohol 9
By-products, organic 6
Calcium hypochlorite 9
Can, drum washing 6
Carbon dioxide 0
Cheese manufacturing wash water 6
Chemical tank wash water 6
Chloral 9
Chloraimne 7
Chlorobenzene 9
Chlorine 9
Chlorophenol 9
Chlorophyll 8
Cistern water 7
Citric acid 8
Coal mine drainage water 0
Condensation (from ref. coils) 6
Cresol 9
Dairy or milk processing wash water 6
Decayed leaves 8
Decayed organic matter 8
Decaying substances 8
Defoliants 9
Deionized water 6
Detergents 6
Dissolved oil 9
Dyes 9
Electroplating rinse water 4
Emulsions 4
Ethyl acetate 9
Ethyl acrylate 9
Ethyl alcohol 9
Ethyl a mine 8
Ethyl chloride 8
Ethyl ether 8
Fermentation slop 3
Fertilizers 3
Fiber and fabric washing 3
Filter backwash 3
Fluorides 4
Food processing wash water 4
Food processing waste 4
Formaldehyde 4
Fruit processing waste 3
Gasoline 9
Glycol 9
Hardness 0
Herbicides 9
Hydrogen bromide 4
Hydrogen chloride 2
Hydrogen fluoride 2
Hydrogen iodide 4
Hydrogen selenide 5
Hydrogen sulfide 5
Hypochlorous add 9
Imhoff effluent 3
Industrial wastes 3
Inorganic acids 1
Inorganic chemicals 1
Insecticides 9
Iodine 9
Isopropyl acetate 9
Isopropyl alcohol 9
Ketones 9
Laboratory drains 3
Lactic acid 8
Lake water 8
Laundry effluent 4
Leaf extract 9
Lime 0
Liquid contaminants 2
Lysol 9
Mercaptans 8
Metal salts 1
Methyl acetate 8
Methyl alcohol 8
Methyl bromide 9
Methyl chloride 8
Methyl ethyl ketone 9
Naptha (coal tar) 9
Nitric acid 5
Nitro benzenes 9
Nitrotoluene 9
Odor of unknown origin 6
Oil slick 4
Organic acids 8
Organic esters 9
Organic odor 7
Organic poisons 8
Organic salts 7
Organic taste 7
Oxalic acid 9
Oxidizing agents 3
Ozone 8
Packing house effluent 4
Paper mill effluent 4
Particulate matter 4
Phenol 9
Phosphates 0
Photographic wash water 4
Pickle liquor 1
Plastic monomers 7
Plumbing drain 6
Poisons 5
Polluting substances 3
Potassium permanganate 8
Precipitated iron 4
Precipitated sulfur 3
Process drain 4
Propionaldehyde 5
Propionic acid 8
Propyl acetate 8
Propyl alcohol 8
PropyI chloride 8
Putrefying substances 4
Radioactive solutions 1
Rain water 9
Recycled water 6
Residual brine from electrolysis 3
River water 9
Rubber & plastic hose taste 9
Salt water 2
Sea water 2
Sediment 2
Sewage plant effluent 5
Soap 5
Sodium hypochlorite 9
Soluble iron 4
Soluble sulfur 4
Solvents 8
Sour milk 5
Spoiled foods 5
Spring water 9
Stagnant water 5
Starch 5
Stick water 5
Sugar 5
Sulfonated oil 8
Sulfuric acid 3
Suspended matter 4
Suspended oil 4
Sweet water 8
Swimming pool water 8
Tanning waste 5
Tar emulsion 8
Tartaric acid 8
Taste of unknown origin 6
Toluene 9
Toluidine 9
Trichlorethylene 9
Trickle filter effluent 6
Turpentine 9
Urine 4
Vegetable processing waste 4
Vinegar 7
Waste products 4
Well water 9
Wine industry wash water 5
Wool scouring water 5
Xanthophyll 8
Xylene 9











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Did You Know?

Each year 1.2 trillion gallons of untreated sewage, storm water, and industrial waste are dumped into US water.  - "How Infastructure Makes Water Work for Us."  In Urban Green: Architecture for the Future.
Approximately 40% of the lakes in America are too polluted for fishing, aquatic life, or swimming.  - "Nonpoint Source Pollution: The Nation's Largest Water Quality Problem." Environmental Protection Agency. Accessed February 18, 2014
14 billion pounds of garbage are dumped into the ocean every year.   "Marine Debris." - California Coastal Commission. 2014
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Statements about water pollution, Waterboy water filters, Kangen water machines, Wholly Water filter, The Vitalizer Plus, the P250 Ozone generator, etc. have not been reviewed by the FDA.