Removing Chloramines from Drinking Water Supplies

Historically, most public water supplies have been treated with chlorine to satisfy the standards set by the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974. Since being established, there is reason to believe that the standards may be too lenient on the allowable contaminant levels in our drinking water. For instance, chlorine and other disinfectants react with organic matter creating carcinogenic by-products1. Some municipalities and water treatment facilities do not treat the water to remove these harmful by-products.

Chloramine, a chemical compound composed of chlorine and ammonia, has been gaining in popularity as an alternative disinfectant. Unfortunately, chloramine is not without harmful side-effects. These include compromises of the immune system, respiratory problems such as congestion, asthma and lung damage, increases in deaths from influenza and pneumonia, skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis, digestive problems and kidney and blood disorders.3

Using activated carbon in conjunction with chlorine is typically a cost-effective way to treat drinkable water efficiently. Zaid Chowdhury in Activated Carbon: Solutions for Improving Water Quality states that, “By reducing organics in the treated water, the [granular activated carbon] treatment system substantially reduces the amount of chlorine required in the system. Experience indicates a reduction [in chlorine use] of about 60 percent, which represents a savings of approximately $200,000 in 2008 annual operating costs” in a typical municipal system. Depending on the type of system utilized, there are a variety of activated carbons including powdered and granular which are effective for the treatment of potable drinking water. Some of these products are GC Watercarb, GC 8×30 and GC 12x40S, which are sold by General Carbon.

Until recent years, there has not been an activated carbon product that would effectively treat chloramines, trihalomethanes and other similar chemical compounds. General Carbon has recently developed a specialized catalytic activated carbon, GC 12x30SCI, which successfully removes these compounds through its enhanced microporosity.

As can be seen, disinfecting drinking water supplies through the use of chlorine and chloramines is not always the perfect solution to keeping our water pure and safe. However, the implementation of an activated carbon treatment system in conjunction with these disinfectants can go a long way to solving these problems. Please feel free to contact one of our Sales Representatives for more information on the utilization of activated carbon in such applications.


1 – Activated Carbon: Solutions for Improving Water Quality by Zaid K. Chowdhury, R. Scott Summers, Garret P. Westerhoff, Brian J. Leto, Kirk O. Nowack and Christopher J. Corwin
2 – Type of Disinfectant in Drinking Water and Patterns of Mortality in Massachusetts by Sally Zierler, Robert A. Danley and Lisa Feingold
3 – by the Citizens Concerned About Chloramine