Disinfection byproducts in drinking water and regulatory compliance: A critical review

Xiaomao Wang, Yuqin Mao, Shun Tang, Hongwei Yang, Yuefeng F. Xie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


Disinfection by-products (DBPs) are regulated in drinking water in a number of countries. This critical review focuses on the issues associated with DBP regulatory compliance, including methods for DBP analysis, occurrence levels, the regulation comparison among various countries, DBP compliance strategies, and emerging DBPs. The regulation comparison between China and the United States (US) indicated that the DBP regulations in China are more stringent based on the number of regulated compounds and maximum levels. The comparison assessment using the Information Collection Rule (ICR) database indicated that the compliance rate of 500 large US water plants under the China regulations is much lower than that under the US regulations (e.g. 62.2% versus 89.6% for total trihalomethanes). Precursor removal and alternative disinfectants are common practices for DBP regulatory compliance. DBP removal after formation, including air stripping for trihalomethane removal and biodegradation for haloacetic acid removal, have gained more acceptance in DBP control. Formation of emerging DBPs, including iodinated DBPs and nitrogenous DBPs, is one of unintended consequences of precursor removal and alternative disinfection. At much lower levels than carbonaceous DBPs, however, emerging DBPs have posed higher health risks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-15
Number of pages13
JournalFrontiers of Environmental Science and Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science(all)


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