Volatile organic compounds (VOC's) are chemical contaminants, most often man-made, that can be harmful to your health. The location of your home is the biggest contributing factor to contamination, especially if it is near industrial operations, like manufacturing plants or gas stations. One contaminant, MTBE, was once a gasoline additive in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and its subsequent contamination of the soil surrounding gas stations resulted in multiple lawsuits.
Types of organic compound contaminants Found In Water
Volatile organic compounds are grouped into four recognizable subcategories: industrial solvents, hydrocarbons, pesticides, and herbicides. Industrial solvents and hydrocarbons have a broad range of uses, from creating plastics to pharmaceuticals. All of the categories refer to a man-made compound. These chemicals enter the environment as a contaminant from activities such as agriculture, manufacturing or improper waste disposal.
What is the best treatment option?
Deciding on the best treatment for water contaminated with organic chemicals depends on the type of chemical present. Once testing is complete, you should consider some additional factors, such as how long is the contaminant will likely to stay in your water supply, if the amount of chemical is increasing or decreasing and what form the organic compound is in.
Water testing is conducted at your state’s environmental protection office, or can be done by a private contractor. Skillings & Sons can perform your testing and advise you on the best treatment option based on the results.
How do I remove volatile organic compounds from my water?
There are three preferred methods for removing organic compounds from your home water supply. Sometimes a two-step filtration system is installed when contamination levels are high. The first filter removes the bulk of the pollution, while the second filter is a polishing step. This is called a series configuration.
Aeration: By vigorously mixing air and water together, aeration is an effective way to filter iron and manganese from water, as well as some organic chemicals. When air and water come into contact in this way, these compounds are stripped from the water. This is often the first step in a series configuration.
Granulated Activated Carbon: In this method, water passes through an activated carbon filter, which removes the harmful chemicals. Over time, the carbon, or charcoal, absorbs all it can, and the filter is no longer active. If the filter continues to be used at this point, the chemicals may be released back into the filtered water. It’s also important to keep up on the maintenance schedule of these filters because disease-causing bacteria can build up in the carbon or charcoal.
This is often done at the point-of-use, or where water is drawn from the tap, usually for drinking and cooking. Whole house systems are an option, as well. It is also the kind of filtration system used in the second stage of a series configuration.
Reverse Osmosis: In a reverse osmosis filtration system, water flows through a membrane, filtering out some of the contaminants in the water. These molecules, plus some water, are flushed into your home’s wastewater system. The treated water is stored in a small storage tank until needed. When used to filter only the home’s drinking water at the point-of-use, this is the most economical option.