Impact of chitosan and polyacrylamide on formation of carbonaceous and nitrogenous disinfection by-products

Zhao Li, Ting Chen, Fuyi Cui, Yuefeng Xie, Wenqing Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Coagulation is one of the most commonly used practices in water treatment to remove natural organic matter, which can serve as precursors for disinfection by-products (DBPs). Furthermore, some coagulant aids, particularly amine-based polymers, could foster the formation of both carbonaceous and nitrogenous DBPs (C-DBPs and N-DBPs, respectively). In this study, we evaluated the formation potentials of 11 C-DBPs and N-DBPs during chloramination when two coagulant aids, chitosan and polyacrylamide (PAM), were used under typical water treatment conditions. Our results suggest that both chitosan and PAM promote the formation of N-DBPs, while neither affects the formation of C-DBPs. We further investigated a potential method to mitigate the formation of N-DBPs. Methyl iodide (MeI), an alkylating agent, was effective at reducing the formation of N-DBPs by converting amine to quaternary ammonium groups in chitosan. 1H-NMR results confirmed that the quaternarization reaction did take place. This study reports that chitosan, a natural coagulant, and PAM contribute to the formation of toxic DBPs. More importantly, it provides a preventative strategy for curbing the formation of DBPs through chemical structural modification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-33
Number of pages8
StatePublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • General Chemistry
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry


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