Effect of increasing bromide concentration on toxicity in treated drinking water

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Research is increasingly indicating the potential chronic health effects of brominated disinfection by-products (DBPs). This is likely to increase with elevated bromide concentrations resulting from the impacts of climate change, projected to include extended periods of drought and the sudden onset of water quality changes. This will demand more rigorous monitoring throughout distribution systems and improved water quality management at water treatment plants (WTPs). In this work the impact of increased bromide concentration on formation of DBPs following conventional treatment and chlorination was assessed for two water sources. Bioanalytical tests were utilised to determine cytotoxicity of the water post disinfection. Coagulation was shown to significantly reduce the cytotoxicity of the water, indicating that removal of natural organic matter DBP precursors continues to be an important factor in drinking water treatment. Most toxic species appear to form within the first half hour following disinfectant addition. Increasing bromide concentration across the two waters was shown to increase the formation of trihalomethanes and shifted the haloacetic acid species distribution from chlorinated to those with greater bromine substitution. This correlated with increasing cytotoxicity. This work demonstrates the challenges faced by WTPs and the possible effects increasing levels of bromide in source waters could have on public health.

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