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Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC s) in Water

Remove Chlorine with a<br> WH2-HF Premium 5 Micron Whole House Carbon Filter Package

Remove Chlorine with a
WH2-HF Premium 5 Micron Whole House Carbon Filter Package

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What are VOC's

Synthetic organic compounds are chemicals synthesized from carbon and other elements such as hydrogen, nitrogen, or chlorine. They do not occur naturally, but are manufactured to meet hundreds of needs in our daily lives, ranging from moth balls to hair sprays, from solvents to pesticides. VOCs are a class of organic chemicals that have two important properties in common: they evaporate or vaporize readily (they are volatile), and they contain carbon (organic). The manufacture of these chemicals has increased dramatically during the past 40-50 years. It is no surprise that they have found their way into our water supply.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that VOCs are present in one-fifth of the nation's water supplies. More than 700 synthetic organic compounds have been identified in various U.S. drinking water supplies. This contamination originates from a variety of sources, including household products and leakage or improper disposal of chemical wastes from commercial and industrial establishments.

Volatile organic compounds have a variety of harmful health effects. At high levels of exposure, many VOCs can cause acute central nervous system depression (drowsiness, stupor). Virtually all VOCs cause skin and respiratory irritation. Long-term exposure to many VOCs is known to cause liver and kidney disorders, severe nervous system problems, and a wide range of cancers. Drinking water containing one or more VOCs at levels above standards should not be consumed. In addition, because little is known about the compound effects of exposure to multiple VOCs, attention should be given if two or more VOC chemicals are found in your drinking water. It goes without saying that all sources of VOC contamination should be eliminated or avoided if at all possible.

How do you remove VOC's from water?

Activated carbon filters are generally very effective at removing most organic contaminants from water; however, certain forms of carbon have a greater capacity for VOC reduction. The following products are recommended for VOC reduction.

Common VOC's found in water

The following is a list of some of the most common volatile organic compounds found in drinking water in North America:

VOC Maximum Acceptable Level Common
Most Effective Treatment Technology
2,4,5-TP 0.05 mg/L Herbicide on crops, right-of-way, golf courses Liver and kidney damage Activated Carbon
2,4-D 0.07 mg/L Runoff from herbicide on wheat, corn, rangelands, lawns Liver and kidney damage Activated Carbon
Alachlor 0.002 mg/L Runoff from herbicide on corn, soybeans, other crops Cancer Activated Carbon
Atrazine 0.003 mg/L Runoff from use as a herbicide on corn and non-cropland Mammary gland tumors Activated Carbon
Carbufuran 0.04 mg/L Soil fumigant on corn and cotton Nervous, reproductive system effects Activated Carbon
Chlorination By-Products 0.08 mg/L By-product of chlorination in drinking water Cancer Activated Carbon
Dibromochloropropane 0.0002 mg/L Soil fumigant on soybeans, cotton, pineapple, orchards Cancer Activated Carbon
Ethylene Dibromide 0.00005 mg/L Leaded gasoline additives, leaching of soil fumigant Cancer Activated Carbon
Heptachlor Epoxide 0.0002 mg/L Biodegradation of heptachlor, which is used in insecticides for termites Cancer Activated Carbon
Lindane 0.0002 mg/L Insecticide on cattle, lumber, garden Liver, kidney, nerve, immune, circulatory Activated Carbon
Methoxychlor 0.04 mg/L Insecticide for fruits, vegetables, alfalfa, livestock, pets Growth, liver, kidney, nerve effects Activated Carbon
o-dichlorobenzene 0.6 mg/L Paints, engine cleaning compounds, dyes, chemical wastes Liver, kidney, blood cell damage Activated Carbon
Styrene 0.1 mg/L Plastics, rubber, resin, drug industries, leachate from landfills Liver and nervous system damage Activated Carbon
Trichloroethylene (TCE) 0.005 mg/L Textiles, adhesives and metal degreasers Cancer Activated Carbon
Xylenes 10 mg/L By-product of gasoline refining; paint, inks, detergents Liver, kidney, nervous system Activated Carbon