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How is powdered activated carbon used?


Cleaning Water & Air
Activated carbon is often used to treat water.
Activated carbon is often used to treat water.
Michael Blann/Thinkstock

One of the most common uses for activated carbon is treating water. It acts as a sort of buffer, removing harmful toxins from wastewater, groundwater and drinking water. It even improves taste and odor.

It cleans the air you breathe, too: PAC is often built into air purifiers to adsorb volatile chemicals. (A note on adsorb vs. absorb: the latter indicates that one substance fully mixes with another; adsorb refers to two substances that bind together on a superficial level.)