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Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs)

The use of strong oxidants to disinfect water has virtually eliminated waterborne diseases like typhoid, cholera, and dysentery in developed countries. However, research has shown that chlorine interacts with natural organic matter present in water supplies to form regulated and non-regulated disinfection byproducts (DBPs).

To minimize the formation of regulated DBPs and comply with existing regulations, water utilities have increasingly been moving away from chlorine to use alternative disinfectants like chloramine, or installing more advanced and costly treatment processes, such as ozone or granular activated carbon to remove DBP precursors. However, while reducing the formation of halogenated DBPs, alternative oxidants have been shown to favor the formation of other DBPs (e.g., ozone producing bromate and halonitromethanes, and chloramines producing N-nitrosodimethylamine and iodinated DBPs). 

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The Role and Behavior of Chloramines in Drinking Water

In recent years, many utilities implemented chloramine disinfection, primarily to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Stage 1 and Stage 2 Disinfectants and Disinfection Byproducts Rules. This state of the science document summarizes relevant WRF research on chloramines, provides an overview of chloramine use in water treatment, and discusses the concerns associated with its use. 

Water Treatment Plant process at sunset

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