Occurrence of N-nitrosamines in Alberta public drinking-water distribution systems
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Since the 1974 discovery of trihalomethanes as disinfection by-products (DBPs) in drinking water, the regulatory and public health focus has been primarily directed at halogenated compounds, even though it is well established that chlorination and chloramination also produce non-halogenated DBPs. Specific halogenated DBPs that could reasonably explain the correlation of some adverse health outcomes with consumption of disinfected drinking water in a number of epidemiologic studies have yet to be identified. We therefore explored an emerging class of non-halogenated DBPs, N-nitrosamines, which warrant consideration given public health concerns regarding possible correlations of bladder cancer with exposure to chlorinated drinking water. We developed a dual media (Ambersorb® 572 and LiChrolut® EN), off-line, solid-phase extraction method that utilized a modified commercially-available extraction manifold combined with our previous GC–MS ammonia positive chemical ionization (PCI) quantitative method for analyzing N-nitrosamines in drinking water. We surveyed 20 Alberta municipal drinking-water distribution systems for the presence of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) and seven other N-nitrosamine species. Analytical results revealed the occurrence of NDMA (up to 100 ng/L) as well as two other N-nitrosamines (N-nitrosopyrrolidine and N-nitrosomorpholine) within select Alberta drinking water supplies.Key words: Alberta, chloramination, disinfection by-products, distribution system, drinking water, N-nitrosamines, NDMA, public health, survey.
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