What are VOCs in Water and How Do I Filter Them?

 Min read
May 9, 2022

Find more information about our activated carbon filters here.

There are a number of things to be concerned about as far as particles or elements that result in unclean water. One such item is VOCs, also known as volatile organic compounds. If there are VOCs in your water, the good news is that they don’t have to remain there as Rusco offers a product to help clean everything up. Today we’ll look more closely at what VOCs are and how they end up in water, as well as how Rusco can help you remove them from drinking water in order to better protect you and your family’s health.

Volatile organic compounds are all around us. According to usgs.gov, VOCs are chemicals that will vaporize into air and dissolve in water. They are used in industry, agriculture and transportation, as well as day-to-day activities around the house. After VOCs make their way to groundwater, they can end up migrating to wells that supply drinking water.

What exactly are volatile organic compounds and where do they come from? VOCs are components or additives in a lot of commercial and household products. These would include gasoline, diesel fuel, carpets, spot removers, cleaners, paints, varnishes and glues. So, whenever you’ve pumped gas, gotten your clothes dry cleaned or used chlorine bleach you have more than likely come across VOCs. Unfortunately, many of these chemicals are toxic and pose human health or ecological concerns in drinking water and the environment.

Usgs.gov points to a study that was conducted between 1985-2001 where around 3,500 well water samples were analyzed that contained VOCs. Trihalomethanes made up the group of VOCs most commonly detected in groundwater. These form when chlorine interacts with dissolved organic matter in water and can happen when chlorine is added to drinking water for disinfection of bacteria. Solvents were also among the VOCs detected in groundwater. These are found in degreasers, paint removers and cleaning agents. Another class of VOCs that have been detected in groundwater include gasoline compounds and additives. Underground gasoline storage tanks that leak lead to these VOCs ending up in groundwater.

The biggest concern regarding VOCs in drinking water has to do with the health effects. An article published in the National Library of Medicine points to a report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It states that the presence of elevated VOC concentrations in drinking water may be a concern to human health because some of them are carcinogens and can affect the liver, kidneys, spleen and stomach. They can also affect nervous, circulatory, reproductive, immune, cardiovascular and respiratory systems.

The good news is that at Rusco we pride ourselves in being the leader when it comes to water filtration. Along with our well-known sediment filters that have been around for years, we recently unveiled some new filter media designed to help in different areas of filtration. One such filter, known as activated carbon, is perfect for helping to eliminate VOCs from drinking water.

Activated carbon, also known as a carbon block filter, is designed to remove impurities and contaminants through the chemical process of adsorption. A carbon block filter can remove VOCs, as well as chlorine, odors and unpleasant tastes from water. A carbon filter is formed using an extrusion process with the highest surface areas of any filter. They have low pressure drop, a non-carbon releasing design and use adsorption to remove impurities. Activated carbon filters are also NSF certified and FDA approved.

If you already have a spin-down or sediment trapper, the good news is that a Rusco activated carbon filter screen has been designed to fit within your existing housing. Like the sediment filters offered by Rusco, an activated carbon filter comes in a ¾", 1”, 1-½" or 2” size depending on the needs you have for your filter. All it takes to install one into your current setup is to pull off the cover, pop out your current filter screen, and slip in the activated carbon!

While one of these filters will require you to replace the cartridge a little more often, it’s worth it for all of the benefits that the activated carbon provides, most important of all protecting your health. These filters handle a flow rate of up to 90 gallons per minute, pressure of up to 75 PSI and a temperature of up to 125 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you’re concerned about VOCs in your drinking water and wondering what you can do to remove them, give a Rusco activated carbon filter a shot.

Call 1-800-345-1033 to speak to a live customer service representative.

Source Notes: All information in this article relating to how VOCs end up in drinking water came from usgs.gov. Information regarding the health effects of VOCs in water came from the National Library of Medicine.

Find more information about our activated carbon filters here.