Using an activated-carbon filtering pitcher significantly reduces chemicals in tap water

November 2, 2006

A study conducted by Universite Laval researchers concludes that using an activated-carbon filtering pitcher is the most effective way to reduce disinfection by-products in tap water. The results of the study, funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, were published in a recent edition of the scientific journal Water Research.

Researchers Steven Lévesque, Christine Beaulieu, Jean Sérodes, François Proulx, and Manuel Rodriguez, from Université Laval's Center for Research in Regional Planning and Development, measured concentrations of the two main drinking water disinfection by-products--trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs)--in samples subjected to different types of indoor handling. These by-products result from chemical reactions between chlorine used to disinfect water and organic matter normally present in it. "They don't affect the smell or the flavor of water, but in high concentrations they are suspected of increasing the risk of certain types of cancer," points out Rodriguez.

Researchers subjected samples collected in private residences to three treatments often used to improve taste, smell and appearance of water: storing water in the refrigerator, boiling water followed by storage in the refrigerator, and filtering water with an activated-carbon filtering pitcher followed by storage in the refrigerator.

Analysis revealed that after a 48-hour period these treatments reduced THMs by respectively 30%, 87%, and 92%. However, results were less convincing with HAAs: direct storage and storage after boiling had no effect on AHAs. The carbon-activated filter, on the other hand, reduced HAA concentration by 66%.

In spite of these results, Rodriguez does not recommend the systematic use of such filtering pitchers. "If you live in a city with adequate water treatment facilities, HAAs are probably within regulation levels and there's no need to subject water to additional treatment," notes the researcher. "However, if I lived in a place where there were regular notifications to boil water or if I knew the water contained high levels of HAAs, I'd consider using home water-treatment devices," concludes Rodriguez.

Source: Université Laval

Explore further: Seven case studies in carbon and climate

Related Stories

Seven case studies in carbon and climate

November 13, 2015

Every part of the mosaic of Earth's surface—ocean and land, Arctic and tropics, forest and grassland—absorbs and releases carbon in a different way. Wild-card events such as massive wildfires and drought complicate the ...

An 'apatite' for radionuclides

October 21, 2015

Sandia National Laboratories geochemist Mark Rigali and his colleagues are developing and deploying apatite-based technologies to protect groundwater at sites contaminated by radionuclides and heavy metals.

Tiny bubbles clean oil from water

November 16, 2009

Small amounts of oil leave a fluorescent sheen on polluted water. Oil sheen is hard to remove, even when the water is aerated with ozone or filtered through sand. Now, a University of Utah engineer has developed an inexpensive ...

Recommended for you


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.