Evaluation of N-acetylcysteine and glutathione as quenching agents for the analysis of halogenated disinfection by-products

Wenhai Chu , Shunke Ding , Menglin Wu , Rong Xiao , Chao Fang , Qi Wang , Bin Xu , Carsten Prasse , Xin Yang , Chao Chen , Xing-Fang Li


Received November 01, 2021,Revised , Accepted January 21, 2022, Available online February 12, 2022

Volume 34,2022,Pages 71-79

Disinfection by-products (DBPs), formed from the reactions of disinfectants with natural organic matter and halides in drinking water, were considered to be cytotoxic and genotoxic, and might trigger various cancers. The relatively low concentration of DBPs in finished water (low µg/L or even ng/L levels) and the interference from water matrix inhibited in situ determination of DBPs. Moreover, the further formation and degradation of DBPs by disinfectants during the holding time (several hours to several days) from sample collection to analysis could adversely affect the determination of DBPs. To obtain accurate, precise and reliable data of DBP occurrence and formation, robust and reliable sample preservation is indispensable. However, the commonly used quenching agents (e.g., sodium sulfite, sodium thiosulfate, and ascorbic acid) for sample preservation can decompose reactive DBPs by reductive dehalogenation. This study evaluated the performance of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) and glutathione (GSH) as quenching agents for the analysis of halogenated DBPs by investigating the stoichiometry of the disinfectant-quenching agent reaction, the formation of DBPs during chlor(am)ination of NAC or GSH, and the effects of NAC or GSH on the stability of 18 individual DBPs and total organic halogen (TOX). Based on the results of this study, NAC and GSH were considered to be ideal quenching agents for the analysis of most DBPs and TOX, except halonitromethanes.

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