UMass EWRE Program

Fate of Non-Regulated DBPs in Distribution Systems


Disinfection byproducts (DBPs) are a broad groups of compounds produced as an unwanted byproduct of disinfection of drinking water.  Many of these compounds are assessed as potentially hazardous to human health, especially when ingested at high concentrations over a lifetime.  The US EPA has regulated two groups of organic DBPs, the trihalomethanes (THMs) and the haloacetic acids (HAAs).  It is generally understood and widely acknowledged that these two groups only represent a fraction of the DBPs formed in municipal drinking water.  Accordingly, there is intense interest in identifying and controlling the other non-regulated DBPs that are deemed to be hazardous.

Key to assessing and controlling emerging DBPs is an understanding of their formation and degradation in municipal drinking water systems.  Most of the DBPs must be viewed as unstable or reactive intermediates.  Thus, it is extremely important to know if they persist for periods of time too short to survive distribution to the consumers’ tap, or if they do persist and become ingested by the public.  In addition it is important to understand how they form, and the impact of various treatment conditions on their formation.  Armed with this knowledge, water treatment engineers will be much better able to protect the public from hazardous DBPs.

This work being conducted by UMass and at Yale University (in collaboration with CDM Consulting Engineers) focuses on developing models and new knowledge that helps in the prediction and understanding of key non-regulated DBPs; their expected concentrations, their degradation pathways, ways to accelerate their degradation, ways to minimize their formation. These studies are conducted with the active participation of a dozen drinking water utilities. For more click on the link below:

Principal Investigators

Lab Researchers

Other Collaborators

CDM Smith team: Janice Skadsen, Ann Mikelonis, Kati Bell