Effect of amine-based water treatment polymers on the formation of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) disinfection by-product
Park, Sang Hyuck
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In recent years, a compound N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a probable human carcinogen, has been identified as an emerging disinfection by-product (DBP) since its formation and detection were linked to chlorine-based disinfection processes in several water utilities in the U.S. and Canada. Numerous organic nitrogen compounds present in water may impact the formation of NDMA during disinfection. Amine-based water treatment polymers used as coagulants and flocculants have been suggested as potential NDMA precursors due to the presence of amine functional groups in their structures, as well as the possible presence of dimethylamine (DMA) residues in polymer products. To minimize the potential risk of NDMA associated with water treatment polymers, the mechanisms of how the polymers behave as NDMA precursors and their contribution to the overall NDMA formation under actual water treatment conditions need to be elucidated. This research involved a systematic investigation to determine whether amine-based water treatment polymers contribute to NDMA formation under drinking water and wastewater treatment conditions, to probe the involved reaction mechanisms, and to develop strategies to minimize the polymers NDMA formation potential. The investigation included five research tasks: (1) General screening of NDMA formation potential of commonly used amine-based water treatment polymers, (2) NDMA formation from amine-based water treatment polymers under relevant water treatment conditions, (3) Probing the mechanisms of NDMA formation from polyamine and PolyDADMAC, (4) Effect of water treatment processes on NDMA formation from amine-based water treatment polymers, and (5) Developing strategies to reduce polymers NDMA formation potential. Direct chloramination or chlorination of high doses of polymers in deionized water at longer than typical contact time was used in the general screening of the NDMA formation potential of water treatment polymers and in the studies to identify reaction mechanisms. On the other hand, realistic dosages of chloramines and polymers and contact time were used in simulating representative water treatment conditions to evaluate the contribution of polymers to the overall NDMA formation in real systems. On the basis of the study results, strategies were developed to reduce the NDMA formation potential of amine-based water treatment polymers, which include modification of polymer structures and treatment parameters.
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