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New method for monitoring and detection of broader range of disinfection by-products (DBPs) in drinking water

New method for monitoring and detection of broader range of disinfection by-products (DBPs) in drinking water

The presence of disinfection by-products (DBPs) in drinking water is an emerging health concern. As climate change and an expanding population place pressure on the world’s water supply, disinfectants are increasingly being used to produce clean drinking water. Chemical disinfectants can react with natural organic matter, anthropogenic contaminants, bromide or iodide present in the water, resulting in unwanted DBPs that may pose a risk to human health due to their carcinogenic, mutagenic (genetic mutation-causing) and genotoxic (genetic damage-causing) properties.

This new method has been developed by Swedish researchers and tries to make it easier to detect a broad spectrum of disinfection by-products (DBPs), including those that are not regulated.

To date, more than 600 SPDs have been identified. Trihalomethanes (THM) and haloaceticsacids (HAAs) are the ones that are subjected to greater regulation. However, in recent years, there has beengrowing interest in unregulated DBPs and emerging DBPs because they are often more toxic. According to a recent review, the majority of analytical methods currently used in routine monitoring can only determinate one or two classes of DBPs.

This new method combines gas chromatography with a halogen-specific detector (XSD) and has been optimised for the simultaneous determination of a wide range of neutralDBPs. This new technology has high selectivity and specificity for halogens.

Laboratory experiments demonstrated that this method is not appropriate for the simultaneous determination of HAAs and THMs since some HAA methyl esters degrade in the process, producing false THM positives.Importantly, both regulated DBPs and unregulated (but toxicologically important) DBPs could be detected using this method.

As knowledge of the effects of unregulated and emerging DBPs develops, it may be necessary to update Regulations. Therefore, analytical methods that can simultaneously detect several classes of DBPs in an affordable and reliable way are necessary. According to the researchers, this method meets these criteria, being easy to operate and, early results indicate, likely to provide sufficiently high selectively and specificity for routine DBP monitoring. However, additional testing and confirmation are required.

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