Occurrence of N-Nitrosamines in Alberta Public Drinking-Water Distribution Systems

By Charrois, Jeffrey W. A.; Boyd, Jessica M. et al. | Journal of Environmental Engineering and Science, January 2007 | Go to article overview
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Occurrence of N-Nitrosamines in Alberta Public Drinking-Water Distribution Systems

Charrois, Jeffrey W. A., Boyd, Jessica M., Froese, Kenneth L., Hrudey, Steve E., Journal of Environmental Engineering and Science

Abstract: Since the 1974 discovery of trihalomethanes as disinfection by-products (DBPs) in drinking water, the regulatory and public health focus has been primarily directed at halogenated compounds, even though it is well established that chlorination and chloramination also produce non-halogenated DBPs. Specific halogenated DBPs that could reasonably explain the correlation of some adverse health outcomes with consumption of disinfected drinking water in a number of epidemiologic studies have yet to be identified. We therefore explored an emerging class of non-halogenated DBPs, N-nitrosamines, which warrant consideration given public health concerns regarding possible correlations of bladder cancer with exposure to chlorinated drinking water. We developed a dual media (Ambersorb[R] 572 and LiChrolut[R] EN), off-line, solid-phase extraction method that utilized a modified commercially-available extraction manifold combined with our previous GC-MS ammonia positive chemical ionization (PCI) quantitative method for analyzing N-nitrosamines in drinking water. We surveyed 20 Alberta municipal drinking-water distribution systems for the presence of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) and seven other N-nitrosamine species. Analytical results revealed the occurrence of NDMA (up to 100 ng/L) as well as two other N-nitrosamines (N-nitrosopyrrolidine and N-nitrosomorpholine) within select Alberta drinking water supplies.

Key words: Alberta, chloramination, disinfection by-products, distribution system, drinking water, N-nitrosamines, NDMA, public health, survey.

Resume: Depuis la decouverte, en 1974, des trihalomethanes comme sous-produits de la desinfection (DBP) dans l'eau potable, les reglementations et la sante publique se sont concentres principalement sur les composes halogenes, meme s'il a ete determine que la chloration et le traitement aux chloramines produisent egalement des DBP non halogenes. Des DBP halogenes specifiques qui pourraient expliquer raisonnablement la correlation de certains impacts negatifs sur la sante relies a la consommation d'eau potable desinfectee dans de nombreuses etudes epidemiologiques n'ont pas encore ete decouverts. Nous avons donc explore une classe emergente de DBP non halogenes, les N-nitrosamines, qui demandent a etre examines en raison des inquietudes publiques pour la sante quant aux correlations possibles de cancer de la vessie et l'exposition a l'eau potable chloree. Nous avons developpe une methode d'extraction en phase solide a deux supports (Ambersorb[R] 572 et LiChrolut[R] EN) hors ligne qui utilise un collecteur modifie d'extraction, disponible sur le marche, combine a notre ancienne methode quantitative d'ionisation chimique positive de l'ammoniac par CG-SM pour l'analyse des N-nitrosamines dans l'eau potable. Nous avons releve 20 reseaux municipaux de distribution d'eau potable en Alberta pour detecter la presence de N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) et de sept autres especes de N-nitrosamines. Les resultats analytiques ont indique la presence de NDMA (jusqu'a 100 ng/L) ainsi que de deux autres N-nitrosamines (N-nitrosopyrrolidine et N-nitrosomorpholine) dans des reseaux selectionnes d'alimentation en eau potable de l'Alberta.

Mots cles: Alberta, chloramination, sous-produits de desinfection, systeme de distribution, eau potable, N-nitrosamines, NDMA, sante publique, releves.

[Traduit par la Redaction]


The existence of trace concentrations ([micro]g/L) of halogenated disinfection by-products (DBPs) in drinking water, such as trihalomethanes (THMs), has been known for over 30 years (Rook 1974; Bellar et al. 1974). However, public health concerns surrounding DBPs persist, despite large efforts and millions of dollars being spent on investigating adverse health outcomes and engineering process control research. Simply stated, DBPs result from chemical reactions between precursors such as natural organic matter in source water and disinfectants such as chlorine, chloramines, or ozone.

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Occurrence of N-Nitrosamines in Alberta Public Drinking-Water Distribution Systems


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