Prioritizing unregulated disinfection byproducts for risk mitigation, Canadian Perspective

Mian HR, Hu G, Hewage K, Rodriguez MJ, Sadiq R. Prioritization of unregulated disinfection by-products in drinking water distribution systems for human health risk mitigation: A critical review. Water Res. 2018 Sep 29;147:112-131. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2018.09.054

Water disinfection involves the use of different types of disinfectants, which are oxidizing agents that react with natural organic matter (NOM) to form disinfection by-products (DBPs). The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has established threshold limits on some DBPs, which are known as regulated DBPs (R-DBPs). The human health risks associated with R-DBPs in drinking water distribution systems (DWDSs) and application of stricter regulations have led water utilities to switch from conventional disinfectant (i.e., chlorination) to alternative disinfectants. However, the use of alternative disinfectants causes formation of a new suit of DBPs known as unregulated DBPs (UR-DBPs), which in many cases can be more toxic. There is a growing concern of UR-DBPs formation in drinking water. This review prioritizes some commonly occurring UR-DBP groups and species in DWDSs based on their concentration level, reported frequency, and toxicity using an indexing method. There are nine UR-DBPs group and 36 species that have been identified based on recent published peer-reviewed articles. Haloacetonitriles (HANs) and haloacetaldehydes (HALs) are identified as important UR-DBP groups. Dichloroacetonitrile (DCAN) and trichloroacetaldehye (TCAL) are identified as critical UR-DBPs species. The outcomes of this review can help water regulators to identify the most critical UR-DBPs species in the context of drinking water safety and provide them with useful information to develop guidelines or threshold limits for UR-DBPs. The outcomes can also help water utilities in selecting water treatment processes for the mitigation of human health risk posed by UR-DBPs through drinking water.

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