Several composite membranes have been prepared from cellulose triacetate (CTA) and activated carbon (AC) by solvent casting, varying temperature from 35 to 55°C and relative humidity (RH): 10–70%. Some conditions promoted AC particle agglomeration which is evidenced by SEM and IFME® program. In those membranes, where homogeneity is attained, a deep characterization has been carried out by DMA, MDSC, thermoporometry, solute transport, and AFM. When AC is added in films, Tg is lowered and the fraction of pores with bigger size is augmented. Molecular weight cut off calculated by solute transport, increases from 801.15 to 1194.29 kDa using 1% AC at RH 70% and T 35°C. Water flux is of 5.23 Lm−2 h−1 bar−1. Arsenic removal has been performed, achieving a 45% tested from a 500 ppb arsenic solution, where several factors such as electrical rejection, adsorption and exclusion, could contribute to the total membrane nanofiltration process. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci. 2014, 131, 40134.