DBP 2014: Disinfection By-products in drinking water

9 Jul 2014

Whether it be the production of safe, clean drinking water, or the management of swimming pools in communal recreational facilities, the disinfection of water to protect against microbial contamination carries the risk of producing harmful disinfection by-products (DBPs). Chlorination of the naturally occurring organic matter in water results in a wide range of toxic halogenated organic compounds. Carcinogenic nitrogenous by-products are a potential by-product of chloramination, and ozonation oxidises bromide to bromate as well as producing a plethora of small organic molecules. There are at least 600 known disinfection by-products, and the count continues to rise.

Worldwide, regulation governing the control of DBPs is becoming more stringent. Most countries in the developed world have regulatory standards for trihalomethanes and bromate. In the USA, the EPA additionally set standards for haloacetic acids and chlorite. In Europe the disinfection by-product rule of the 1998 EU Drinking Water Directive requires water utilities to 'design, operate and maintain the disinfection process so as to keep disinfection by-products as low as possible without compromising the effectiveness of the disinfection; and to verify the effectiveness of the disinfection process.' Water treatment works designed in Europe since January 2010 should have taken the disinfection by-product rule into account and companies should have included this requirement in their regulatory risk assessments. As our understanding of DBPs and their associated health effects increases, so to do the challenges of ensuring that they are effectively regulated, monitored and minimised.

DBP 2014, an international conference organised by IWW Water Centre (DE), RSC (UK) and SCI (UK), will focus on the challenges faced by water utilities and regulatory authorities around the world in balancing the risk of microbial contamination against the potential health risks associated with DBPs. It will bring delegates up to date on the latest technology for monitoring DBPs, on treatment processes for minimising their formation, on research into the health and toxicological concerns of DBPs, and on the potential issues posed by future regulation.

A scientific poster session and an exhibition related to the topics of the conference are included. It is expected that more than 200 attendees from all over the world will take part. As a conference delegate you will have the opportunity to talk to scientific experts, and decision-makers from water utilities and regulators.

Prof Clive Thompson

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