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Occurrence and formation of chloro- and bromo-benzoquinones during drinking water disinfection

Zhao, Yuli, Anichina, Janna, Lu, Xiufen, Bull, Richard J., Krasner, Stuart W., Hrudey, Steve E., Li, Xing-Fang
Water research 2012 v.46 no.14 pp. 4351-4360
byproducts, chlorination, chlorine, detection limit, disinfectants, disinfection, drinking water, effluents, epidemiological studies, hydrolysis, mass spectrometry, ozonation, ozone, pH, phenol, risk, solid phase extraction, urinary bladder neoplasms, water treatment, Canada, United States
Consumption of chlorinated drinking water has shown somewhat consistent association with increased risk of bladder cancer in a series of epidemiological studies, but plausible causative agents have not been identified. Halobenzoquinones (HBQs) have been recently predicted as putative disinfection byproducts (DBPs) that might be of toxicological relevance. This study reports the occurrence frequencies and concentrations of HBQs in plant effluents from nine drinking water treatment plants in the USA and Canada, where four common disinfection methods, chlorination, chloramination, chlorination with chloramination, and ozonation with chloramination, are used. In total, 16 water samples were collected and analyzed for eight HBQs: 2,6-dichloro-1,4-benzoquinone (2,6-DCBQ), 2,6-dibromo-1,4-benzoquinone (2,6-DBBQ), 2,6-dichloro-3-methyl-1,4-benzoquinone (2,6-DC-3-MBQ), 2,3,6-trichloro-1,4-benzoquinone (2,3,6-TriCBQ), 2,5-dibromo-1,4-benzoquinone (2,5-DBBQ), 2,3-dibromo-5,6-dimethyl-1,4-benzoquinone (2,3-DB-5,6-DM-BQ), tetrabromo-1,4-benzoquinone (TetraB-1,4-BQ), and tetrabromo-1,2-benzoquinone (TetraB-1,2-BQ). Of these, 2,6-DCBQ, 2,6-DBBQ, 2,6-DC-3-MBQ and 2,3,6-TriCBQ were detected in 16, 11, 6, and 3 of the 16 samples with the method detection limit (DL) of 1.0, 0.5, 0.9 and 1.5 ng/L, respectively, using a solid phase extraction and high performance liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry method. The concentrations were in the ranges of 4.5–274.5 ng/L for 2,6-DCBQ, below DL to 37.9 ng/L for 2,6-DBBQ, below DL to 6.5 ng/L for 2,6-DC-3-MBQ, and below DL to 9.1 ng/L for 2,3,6-TriCBQ. These authentic samples show DCBQ and DBBQ as the most abundant and frequently detectable HBQs. In addition, laboratory controlled experiments were performed to examine the formation of HBQs and their subsequent stability toward hydrolysis when the disinfectants, chlorine, chloramine, or ozone followed by chloramines, reacted with phenol (a known precursor) under various conditions. The controlled reactions demonstrate that chlorination produces the highest amounts of DCBQ, while pre-ozonation increases the formation of DBBQ in the presence of bromide. At pH < 6.8, 2,6-DCBQ was observed to be stable, but it was easily hydrolyzed to form mostly 3-hydroxyl-2,6-DCBQ at pH 7.6 in drinking water.