Chloramination of nitrogenous contaminants (pharmaceuticals and pesticides): NDMA and halogenated DBPs formation

Julien Le Roux, Hervé Gallard, Jean-Philippe Croue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

166 Scopus citations


Disinfection with chloramines is often used to reduce the production of regulated disinfection by-products (DBPs) such as trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs). However, chloramination can lead to the formation of N-nitrosamines, including N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a probable human carcinogen. Previous research used dimethylamine (DMA) as a model precursor of NDMA, but certain widely used tertiary dimethylamines (e.g. the pharmaceutical ranitidine) show much higher conversion rates to NDMA than DMA. This study investigates the NDMA formation potential of several tertiary amines including pharmaceuticals and herbicides. The reactivity of these molecules with monochloramine (NH2Cl) is studied through the formation of NDMA, and other halogenated DBPs such as haloacetonitriles (HANs) and AOX (Adsorbable Organic Halides). Several compounds investigated formed NDMA in greater amounts than DMA, revealing the importance of structural characteristics of tertiary amines for NDMA formation. Among these compounds, the pharmaceutical ranitidine showed the highest molar conversion to NDMA. The pH and dissolved oxygen content of the solution were found to play a major role for the formation of NDMA from ranitidine. NDMA was formed in higher amounts at pH around pH 8 and a lower concentration of dissolved oxygen dramatically decreased NDMA yields. These findings seem to indicate that dichloramine (NHCl2) is not the major oxidant involved in the formation of NDMA from ranitidine, results in contradiction with the reaction mechanisms proposed in the literature. Dissolved oxygen was also found to influence the formation of other oxygen-containing DBPs (i.e. trichloronitromethane and haloketones). The results of this study identify several anthropogenic precursors of NDMA, indicating that chloramination of waters impacted by these tertiary amines could lead to the formation of significant amounts of NDMA and other non-regulated DBPs of potential health concern (e.g. dichloroacetonitrile or trichloronitromethane). This could be of particular importance for the chloramination of wastewater effluents, especially during water reuse processes. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3164-3174
Number of pages11
JournalWater Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Waste Management and Disposal


Dive into the research topics of 'Chloramination of nitrogenous contaminants (pharmaceuticals and pesticides): NDMA and halogenated DBPs formation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this