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Is an Activated Carbon Filter Adequate to Clean Water?

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Question: Is an Activated Carbon Filter Adequate to Clean Water?
Is an Activated Carbon Filter Adequate to Clean Water? How effective is an activated carbon filter? Is an activated carbon filter enough for drinking water? Carbon water filters - effective and adequate?
Answer: An activated carbon filter may be adequate, but it really depends on the condition of your water. If your water is already treated such as with most municipal tap water, it may be safe to drink and an active carbon filter can help to remove odor-causing chemicals and other particulates, as well as improve the taste of drinking water.

However, water treatment facilities do not always remove all threat and traces of bacteria, viruses, lead, chemicals or other impurities in water. In such a case, an activated carbon filter may be inadequate filtration because it does have limitations.

An activated carbon filter is an affordable choice of water filtration for treated tap water if you're merely looking at improving the taste of your drinking water. But it will only remove certain particles and some chemical residue; it really depends on what it is designed to accomplish, and some are more effective at particle removal than others.

If you suspect the presence of bacteria, lead or other contaminants in your water, you may need more than carbon filtration. But before buying a more involved water filtration unit, you should have your water tested. You can inquire from your local health authorities as to the nearest water testing facility. Cost is usually minimal and this will either prove your suspicions or affirm the safety of your water. Be sure to inquire as to the specific water-gathering steps for such tests, to avoid contaminating your water sample. And be prepared to repeat water sampling as the need arises.

Though most municipal water systems are monitored to ensure compliance with water quality standards, bacteria can sometimes enter such distribution systems. Some municipalities have found traces of lead in tap water, supposedly from aging infrastructure, adding to growing concerns about the safety of treated water. And the addition of chemicals such as chlorine can leave a nasty residue in drinking water.

Disasters such as flooding can also have negative effects on water systems, as bacteria can enter the water as it inadvertently mixes with polluted ground or flood waters. Such events give rise to concerns about water being safe and this can also prompt the need to test your home's water. For helpful tips on how to make water safe to drink after a flood, earthquake, flood or other disaster, read the Centers for Disease Control article.

If testing results show that your water has harmful bacteria or pollutants, or if you just want the assurance of a secondary filtration system to alleviate on-going concerns, you'll need to look beyond an activated carbon filter to a combined activated carbon filter with UV filtration, water distiller or reverse osmosis unit for residential use. The assurance of a secondary water filtration system can give you peace of mind when it comes to bacterial and disease prevention.

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Read More About Water Quality and Activated Carbon Filters:

Water 101 - Quality, Filtration, Bottled, Storage
Read More About Activated Carbon Filtration
What's a UV Light?
How Often Should I Change the Carbon Water Filter?
Is Bottled Water Safe to Drink?
Water Conservation Tips
Go to Main Water Quality Page

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