Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 185, Issue 9, pp 7693–7708 | Cite as

Spatial and temporal occurrence of N-nitrosamines in seven drinking water supply systems

  • Isabelle J. Brisson
  • Patrick Levallois
  • Hélène Tremblay
  • Jean Sérodes
  • Christian Deblois
  • Jeffrey Charrois
  • Vincent Taguchi
  • Jessica Boyd
  • XingFang Li
  • Manuel J. Rodriguez


The spatiotemporal presence of eight N-nitrosamines in the water of seven supply systems in Quebec considered to be susceptible to these emerging disinfection by-products was evaluated. This is the first study on the presence of N-nitrosamines in drinking water utilities in Quebec. Seven sampling campaigns were carried out at several sampling points in each of the systems over a period of 1 year. The results show that N-nitrosamines, primarily N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), were not commonly detected in the water of the facilities under study (10 % of samples). The concentrations measured were lower than those reported in recent North American studies. None of the 195 samples taken exceeded the Ontario standard of 9 ng/L for NDMA (maximum value observed of 3.3 ng/L). N-nitrosomethylethylamine and N-nitrosopiperidine were detected once, with concentrations of 3.7 and 6.0 ng/L, respectively. Chloramination was identified as being the main risk factor regarding the presence of N-nitrosamines, but water quality and some operating parameters, in particular disinfectant residual, also seem to be related to their presence. NDMA concentrations at the end of the distribution systems were generally higher than water leaving the plant. No seasonal trends were observed for the formation of N-nitrosamines in the investigated supply systems. Finally, an association between the presence of N-nitrosamines and the levels of trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids was observed in some facilities.


Nitrosamines Drinking water Water quality Supply system Trihalomethanes Haloacetic acids Disinfection by-products Chloramination Spatiotemporal variations 



The authors would like to thank the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Canadian Water Network (CWN) and the partners of the Université Laval Drinking Water Chair (Ville de Québec, Ville de Lévis, Dessau and Avensys-ITF Labs) for financial support. The authors also thank the laboratory personnel of the CEAEQ (Quebec), the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Alberta Innovates for N-nitrosamine analyses. Thanks are also due to Sabrina Simard and Christine Beaulieu for laboratory support and to the seven water utilities for participation in this project.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Isabelle J. Brisson
    • 1
  • Patrick Levallois
    • 1
  • Hélène Tremblay
    • 2
  • Jean Sérodes
    • 1
  • Christian Deblois
    • 2
  • Jeffrey Charrois
    • 3
  • Vincent Taguchi
    • 4
  • Jessica Boyd
    • 5
  • XingFang Li
    • 5
  • Manuel J. Rodriguez
    • 6
  1. 1.Université LavalLavalCanada
  2. 2.Ministère du Développement Durablede l’EnvironnementQuébecCanada
  3. 3.Curtin UniversityCurtinAustralia
  4. 4.Ontario Ministry of the EnvironmentOntarioCanada
  5. 5.University of AlbertaAlbertaCanada
  6. 6.ESADUniversité LavalQuébec CityCanada

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