Environmental science & technology

Modeling the formation of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) from the reaction of natural organic matter (NOM) with monochloramine.

PMID 17180980


This paper presents mechanistic studies on the formation of NDMA, a newly identified chloramination disinfection byproduct, from reactions of monochloramine with natural organic matter. A kinetic model was developed to validate proposed reactions and to predict NDMA formation in chloraminated water during the time frame of 1-5 days. This involved incorporating NDMA formation reactions into an established comprehensive model describing the oxidation of humic-type natural organic matter by monochloramine. A rate-limiting step involving the oxidation of NOM is theorized to control the rate of NDMA formation which is assumed to be proportional to the rate of NOM oxidized by monochloramine. The applicability of the model to describe NDMA formation in the presence of three NOM sources over a wide range in water quality (i.e., pH, DOC, and ammonia concentrations) was evaluated. Results show that with accurate measurement of monochloramine demand for a specific supply, NDMA formation could be modeled over an extended range of experimental conditions by considering a single NOM source-specific value of thetaNDMA, a stoichiometric coefficient relating the amount of NDMA produced to the amount of NOM oxidized, and several kinetic parameters describing NOM oxidation. Furthermore, the oxidation of NOM is the rate-limiting step governing NDMA formation. This suggests that NDMA formation over a 1-5 day time frame may be estimated from information on the chloramine or free chlorine demand of the NOM and the source-specific linear relationship between this demand and NDMA formation. Although the proposed model has not yet been validated for shorter time periods that may better characterize the residence time in some distribution systems, the improved understanding of the important reactions governing NDMA formation and the resulting model should benefit the water treatment industry as a tool in developing strategies that minimize NDMA formation.

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