What’s In My Drinking Water? Revealing the Chemicals We Can’t See
Drinking water disinfection by-products (DBPs) are an unintended consequence of using chemical disinfectants to kill harmful pathogens in water. DBPs are formed by the reaction of disinfectants with naturally occurring organic matter, bromide, and iodide, as well as from anthropogenic pollutants, such as pharmaceuticals and pesticides. Potential health risks of DBPs from drinking water include bladder cancer, early-term miscarriage, and birth defects. Several DBPs, such as trihalomethanes (THMs), haloacetic acids (HAAs), bromate, and chlorite, are regulated in the U.S. and in other countries, but other “emerging” DBPs, such as iodo-acids, halobenzoquinones, halonitromethanes, haloamides, halofuranones, and nitrosamines are not widely regulated. This presentation will provide a state-of-the-science overview of the formation of DBPs and how we use gas chromatography (GC) and liquid chromatography (LC) with high resolution-mass spectrometry to comprehensively identify unknown DBPs. In addition, recent work will be presented on the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on DBP formation, as well as new research using granular activated carbon (GAC) to try to remove DBP precursors and make drinking water safer.