Predictive models for water sources with high susceptibility for bromine-containing disinfection by-product formation: implications for water treatment


This study examines a matrix of synthetic water samples designed to include conditions that favour brominated disinfection by-product (Br-DBP) formation, in order to provide predictive models suitable for high Br-DBP forming waters such as salinity-impacted waters. Br-DBPs are known to be more toxic than their chlorinated analogues, in general, and their formation may be favoured by routine water treatment practices such as coagulation/flocculation under specific conditions; therefore, circumstances surrounding their formation must be understood. The chosen factors were bromide concentration, mineral alkalinity, bromide to dissolved organic carbon (Br/DOC) ratio and Suwannee River natural organic matter concentration. The relationships between these parameters and DBP formation were evaluated by response surface modelling of data generated using a face-centred central composite experimental design. Predictive models for ten brominated and/or chlorinated DBPs are presented, as well as models for total trihalomethanes (tTHMs) and total dihaloacetonitriles (tDHANs), and bromide substitution factors for the THMs and DHANs classes. The relationships described revealed that increasing alkalinity and increasing Br/DOC ratio were associated with increasing bromination of THMs and DHANs, suggesting that DOC lowering treatment methods that do not also remove bromide such as enhanced coagulation may create optimal conditions for Br-DBP formation in waters in which bromide is present.

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The authors would like to acknowledge the Urban Water Security Research Alliance and Water Research Australia for financial support. Thanks also to Wolfgang Gernjak and Howard Weinberg for advice regarding experimental design and DBP extraction procedure, respectively. Frederic Leusch is also gratefully acknowledged for research support.

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Correspondence to Nicole Knight.

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Responsible editor: Michael Matthies

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Watson, K., Farré, M.J., Birt, J. et al. Predictive models for water sources with high susceptibility for bromine-containing disinfection by-product formation: implications for water treatment. Environ Sci Pollut Res 22, 1963–1978 (2015).

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  • Trihalomethanes
  • Haloacetonitriles
  • Br/DOC ratio
  • Chlorination DBPs
  • Response surface methodology