Water research

NDMA formation from amine-based pharmaceuticals--impact from prechlorination and water matrix.

PMID 23453587


The presence of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) in drinking water is most commonly associated with the chloramination of amine-based precursors. One option to control the NDMA formation is to remove the precursors via pre-oxidation, and prechlorination is among the most effective options in reducing NDMA formation. However, most of the findings to-date are based on single-precursor scenarios using the model precursor dimethylamine (DMA) and natural organic matter (NOM), while few studies have considered the potential interactions between water matrix components and the target precursors when investigating the prechlorination impact. Specifically, little is known for the behaviour of amine-based pharmaceuticals which have recently been reported to contribute to NDMA formation upon chloramination. This work demonstrates that prechlorination can affect both the ultimate NDMA conversion and the reaction kinetics from selected pharmaceuticals, and the nature and extent of the impact was compound-specific and matrix-specific. In the absence of NOM, the NDMA formation from most pharmaceuticals was reduced upon prechlorination, except for sumatriptan which showed a consistent increase in NDMA formation with increasing free chlorine contact time. In the presence of NOM, prechlorination was shown to enhance initial reactions by reducing the binding between NOM and pharmaceuticals, but prolonged prechlorination broke down NOM into smaller products which could then form new bonds with pharmaceuticals and thus inhibit their further conversion into NDMA.