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Water Res. 2007 Feb;41(3):674-82. Epub 2006 Sep 15.

Breakpoint chlorination and free-chlorine contact time: implications for drinking water N-nitrosodimethylamine concentrations.

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Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Alberta, 10-102 Clinical Sciences Building, Edmonton, Alta., Canada T6G 2G3.


North American drinking water utilities are increasingly incorporating alternative disinfectants, such as chloramines, in order to comply with disinfection by-product (DBP) regulations. N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) is a non-halogenated DBP, associated with chloramination, having a drinking water unit risk two to three orders of magnitude greater than currently regulated halogenated DBPs. We quantified NDMA from two full-scale chloraminating water treatment plants in Alberta between 2003 and 2005 as well as conducted bench-scale chloramination/breakpoint experiments to assess NDMA formation. Distribution system NDMA concentrations varied and tended to increase with increasing distribution residence time. Bench-scale disinfection experiments resulted in peak NDMA production near the theoretical monochloramine maximum in the sub-breakpoint region of the disinfection curve. Breakpoints for the raw and partially treated waters tested ranged from 1.9:1 to 2.4:1 (Cl(2):total NH(3)-N, M:M). Bench-scale experiments with free-chlorine contact (2h) before chloramination resulted in significant reductions in NDMA formation (up to 93%) compared to no free-chlorine contact time. Risk-tradeoff issues involving alternative disinfection methods and unregulated DBPs, such as NDMA, are emerging as a major water quality and public health information gap.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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