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Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering

Front. Environ. Sci. Eng.    2015, Vol. 9 Issue (1) : 3-15
Disinfection byproducts in drinking water and regulatory compliance: A critical review
Xiaomao WANG1,Yuqin MAO1,Shun TANG1,Hongwei YANG1,*(),Yuefeng F. XIE1,2
1. State Key Joint Laboratory of Environmental Simulation and Pollution Control, School of Environment, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
2. Environmental Engineering Programs, The Pennsylvania State University, Middletown, PA 17057, USA
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Disinfection by-products (DBPs) are regulated in drinking water in a number of countries. This critical review focuses on the issues associated with DBP regulatory compliance, including methods for DBP analysis, occurrence levels, the regulation comparison among various countries, DBP compliance strategies, and emerging DBPs. The regulation comparison between China and the United States (US) indicated that the DBP regulations in China are more stringent based on the number of regulated compounds and maximum levels. The comparison assessment using the Information Collection Rule (ICR) database indicated that the compliance rate of 500 large US water plants under the China regulations is much lower than that under the US regulations (e.g. 62.2% versus 89.6% for total trihalomethanes). Precursor removal and alternative disinfectants are common practices for DBP regulatory compliance. DBP removal after formation, including air stripping for trihalomethane removal and biodegradation for haloacetic acid removal, have gained more acceptance in DBP control. Formation of emerging DBPs, including iodinated DBPs and nitrogenous DBPs, is one of unintended consequences of precursor removal and alternative disinfection. At much lower levels than carbonaceous DBPs, however, emerging DBPs have posed higher health risks.

Keywords Disinfection byproducts (DBPs)      drinking water standards      regulatory compliance      alternative disinfection      information collection rule (ICR)      emerging DBPs     
Corresponding Authors: Hongwei YANG   
Online First Date: 26 June 2014    Issue Date: 31 December 2014
 Cite this article:   
Xiaomao WANG,Yuqin MAO,Shun TANG, et al. Disinfection byproducts in drinking water and regulatory compliance: A critical review[J]. Front. Environ. Sci. Eng., 2015, 9(1): 3-15.
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Xiaomao WANG
Yuqin MAO
Hongwei YANG
Yuefeng F. XIE
ethods issued by the US.EPA methods in GB/T 5750.10?2006
THMs Method 502.2 (P&T-GC-PID-ELCD), Method 524.2 (P&T-GC-MS), Method 551.1 (LLE-GC-ECD) HS-GC(packed column)-ECD, HS-GC(capillary column)-ECD
HAAs Method 552.1 (SPE-derivatization-GC-ECD), Method 552.2 (LLE-derivatization-GC-ECD), Method 552.3 (LLE-derivatization-GC-ECD) LLE-derivatization-GC-ECD
CH Method 551.1 (LLE-GC-ECD) Hydrolysis-HS-GC-ECD
bromate Method 300.1 (IC-CD), Method 317.0 (IC-PCR-UV/VIS), Method 321.8 (IC-ICP-MS) IC-CD
formaldehyde Method 554 (LSE-HPLC-UV), Method 556 (LLE-derivatization-GC-ECD) Colorimetry
chlorite Method 300.0 (IC-CD), Method 300.1 (IC-CD), Method 317.0 (IC-CD), Method 326.0 (IC-CD), Method 327.0 (colorimetry) Titrimetric,IC-CD
chlorate Method 300.0 (IC-CD), Method 300.1 (IC-CD), Method 317.0 (IC-CD) Titrimetric,IC-CD
CNCl ? Colorimetry
2,4,6-trichlorophenol ? LLE-derivatization-GC-ECD,HS-GC-ECD
Tab.1  Comparison of the approved methods for the measurement of regulated DBPs in the US and China
Krasner et al., 1989 [29] ICR Krasner et al., 2006 [30] Mitch et al., 2009 [35]
THM4 37 29.7 31 36
HAAs 1814.4 (HAA5) 22.6 *17.7 (HAA5) 34
haloacetaldehydes 2.2 (CH) 2.3 (CH) 4 4.5 (THA)
haloacetonitriles 3.2 2.8 (HAN4) 3 4 (DHAN)
haloketones 1.3 (DCP&TCP) 1.1 (DCP&TCP) 2
haloacetamides 1.4
halonitromethanes 0.12 (TCNM) 0 (TCNM) 1 0.5 (TCNM)
halogenated furanones 0.31
CNCl 0.6 2
bromate 0
formaldehyde 2.7 0
acetaldehyde 1.8
chlorite 170
chlorate 66
Tab.2  The occurrence levels of the commonly measured DBPs obtained by the several nationwide surveys in the United States (unit: μg?L-1)
DBP species Chinese standards WHO guidelines US regulations Canadian guidelines EU directive Japanese standards Australian guidelines
TTHM 1a 1a 0.08 0.1 LRAA 0.1 0.1 0.25
chloroform 0.06 0.3 ? ? ? 0.06 ?
BDCM 0.06 0.06 ? ? ? 0.03 ?
DBCM 0.1 0.1 ? ? ? 0.1 ?
bromoform 0.1 0.1 ? ? ? 0.09 ?
HAA5 ? ? 0.06 0.08 LRAA ? ? ?
MCAA ? 0.02 ? ? ? 0.02 0.15
DCAA 0.05 0.05 ? ? ? 0.04 0.1
TCAA 0.1 0.2 ? ? ? 0.2 0.1
CH 0.01 ? ? ? ? ? 0.02
bromate 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.02
formaldehyde 0.9 ? ? None required ? 0.08 0.5
chlorite 0.7 0.7 1 1 ? ? 0.8
chlorate 0.7 0.7 ? 1 ? N.D.
CNCl (as CN-) 0.07 ? ? ? ? 0.01 0.08
DCAN ? 0.02 ? ? ? ? N.D.
DBAN ? 0.07 ? ? ? ? N.D.
2-chlorophenol ? ? ? ? ? ? 0.0001
2,4-dichlorophenol ? ? ? ? ? ? 0.0003
2,4,6-trichlorophenol 0.2 0.2 ? ? ? ? 0.002
NDMA ? 0.0001 ? 0.000 04 ? ? 0.0001
Tab.3  A comparison of the maximum contaminant levels for the various disinfection by-products regulated by the Chinese and US drinking water standards, and suggested by the WHO guidelines (unit: mg?L-1)
DBP species Chinese regulations US regulations
5% method RAA RAA LRAA
TTHM 37.8% 13.8% 3.8% 10.4%
chloroform 18.1% 3.5% ? ?
BDCM 0 0 ? ?
DBCM 0 0
bromoform 0 0
HAA5 3.6% 5.1%
DCAA 2.7% 0.4%
TCAA 0.5% 0
CH 24.5% 4.0% ?
bromateb 9.8% 0 0 N.A.
formaldehyde 0 0
chloritec 39.5% 38.1% 19.0% N.A.
chloratec 4.2% 4.2%
CNCl (as CN-) 0 0
Tab.4  The regulation violence rates of the ICR plants based on the China standards and the US standards
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