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J Water Health. 2008 Mar;6(1):15-22.

Biodegradation of six haloacetic acids in drinking water.

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Department of Civil Engineering, University of Toronto, 35 St. George Street, M5S 1A4, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Haloacetic acids (HAAs) are produced by the reaction of chlorine with natural organic matter and are regulated disinfection by-products of health concern. Biofilms in drinking water distribution systems and in filter beds have been associated with the removal of some HAAs, however the removal of all six routinely monitored species (HAA(6)) has not been previously reported. In this study, bench-scale glass bead columns were used to investigate the ability of a drinking water biofilm to degrade HAA(6). Monochloroacetic acid (MCAA) and monobromoacetic acid (MBAA) were the most readily degraded of the halogenated acetic acids. Trichloroacetic acid (TCAA) was not removed biologically when examined at a 90% confidence level. In general, di-halogenated species were removed to a lesser extent than the mono-halogenated compounds. The order of biodegradability by the biofilm was found to be monobromo > monochloro > bromochloro > dichloro > dibromo > trichloroacetic acid.

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