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Identifying A New Generation Of Byproducts From Water Disinfection

Source: American Chemical Society

California scientists have identified a “new generation” of by-products of the disinfection processes used to purify drinking water at municipal water treatment plants. Such compounds, which wind up in drinking water, are termed disinfection byproducts (DBPs). The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency currently regulates some as potential health risks.

Stuart W. Krasner and colleagues tested water from 12 treatment plants specifically chosen for waters high in DBP precursors and natural organic matter in order to facilitate detection of DBPs. They tested the water for levels of regulated DBPs and 50 unregulated DBPs regarded as posing the greatest health risks. Their report is scheduled for the Dec. 1 issue of the semi-monthly ACS journal, Environmental Science & Technology.

Some treatment plants have switched from chlorine to alternative disinfectants such as ozone, chlorine dioxide and chloramines to minimize formation of DBPs. The alternative disinfectants minimized formation of some regulated DBPs. However, researchers found higher levels of other regulated and unregulated DBPs in water from plants using alternative disinfectants.

The researchers also found 28 previously unreported DBPs. Toxicity studies are needed to help determine the health implications of these emerging DBPs, researchers indicated.