Identification of unknown disinfection byproducts in drinking water produced from Taihu Lake source water

Min Yang , Jiabao Li , Haifeng Zhang , Juan Wang , Zhiyong Yu , Hongyan Li


Received March 29, 2021,Revised , Accepted May 27, 2021, Available online June 13, 2021

Volume 34,2022,Pages 1-11

Although disinfection byproducts (DBPs) in drinking water have been suggested as a cancer causing factor, the causative compounds have not yet been clarified. In this study, we used liquid chromatography quadrupole-time-of-flight spectrometry (LC-QTOF MS) to identify the unknown disinfection byproducts (DBPs) in drinking water produced from Taihu Lake source water, which is known as a convergence point for the anthropogenic pollutants discharged from intensive industrial activities in the surrounding regions. In total, 91 formulas of DBPs were discovered through LC-QTOF MS nontarget screen, 81 of which have not yet been reported. Among the 91 molecules, 56 only contain bromine, 15 only contain chlorine and 20 DBPs have both bromine and chlorine atoms. Finally, five DBPs including 2,4,6-tribromophenol, 2,6-dibromo-4-chlorophenol, 2,6-dichloro-4-bromophenol, 4-bromo-2,6-di-tert-butylphenol and 3,6-dibromocarbazole were confirmed using standards. The former three compounds mainly formed in the predisinfection step (maximum concentration, 0.2-2.6 µg/L), while the latter two formed in the disinfection step (maximum concentration, 18.2-33.6 ng/L). In addition, 19 possible precursors of the discovered DBPs were detected, with the aromatic compounds being a major group. 2,6-di-tert-butylphenol as the precursor of 4-bromo-2,6-di-tert-butylphenol was confirmed with standard, with a concentration of 20.3 µg/L in raw water. The results of this study show that brominated DBPs which are possibly formed from industrial pollutants are relevant DBP species in drinking water produced form Taihu source water, suggesting protection of Taihu Lake source water is important to control the DBP risks.

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