Chloramines, which are disinfectant compounds made from the combination of chlorine and ammonia, are being used more and more by water utilities across the country.

Many water utilities across the country are moving toward a total conversion from chlorine to chloramines in the next year. Chloramines are preferred because they last longer in the water, making them more effective at eliminating biological and organic contaminants, but that leaves an important question for the consumer; how can one remove chloramines from the water we drink and bathe in?

One option available for reduction of chloramines is something that many people already use. Activated carbon is a very common substance used to filter water at both the point-of-use (faucet-mount carbon filters or pitcher filters), and the point-of-entry (full house water filtration systems). Under normal applications, activated carbon would have been considered effective for filtering water, since chlorine has been the primary disinfectant of choice for most water utilities, but with the recent shift in the water utility industry to more persistent and less-detectable chloramines, regular activated carbon is not as effective as it used to be. The main reason is that, although activated carbon is excellent at reducing the presence of chlorine, which makes up part of the structure of chloramines, you would require a much larger amount of carbon to reduce chloramines, as much as 5-6 cubic feet. Also, chloramines are an oxidizing substance, and when they encounter activated carbon, they can degrade the structure of the carbon itself, releasing micro-particles of carbon into the drinking water.

Fortunately, the water treatment industry has an effective alternative to standard activated carbon for removal of chloramines. Catalytic carbon, also known as “surface-modified” carbon, is activated carbon that has been uniquely modified to reduce the presence of chloramines. Part of this is due to catalytic carbon’s ability to induce chemisorption, which means that when chloramines encounter catalytic carbon, a special reaction enables the chloramines to bond chemically to the surface of the carbon.

Chloramines are one in a long line of substances that are added to our drinking water, without our specific approval or even our knowledge. But, by utilizing a catalytic carbon filter, or a submicron carbon block with VOC reduction, you can ensure that both chlorine and chloramines are reduced and removed from your water.