Author(s): Richardson SD, Richardson SD
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Abstract Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) has played a pivotal role in the discovery of disinfection by-products (DBPs) in drinking water. DBPs are formed when disinfectants, such as chlorine, ozone, chlorine dioxide or chloramine, react with natural organic matter in the water. The first DBP known--chloroform--was identified by Rook in 1974 using GC-MS. Soon thereafter, chloroform and other trihalomethanes were found to be ubiquitous in chlorinated drinking water. In 1976, the National Cancer Institute published results linking chloroform to cancer in laboratory animals, and an important public health issue was born. Mass spectrometry and, specifically, GC-MS became the key tool used for measuring these DBPs in water and for discovering other DBPs that were formed. Over the last 25 years, hundreds of DBPs have been identified, mostly through the use of GC-MS, which has spawned additional health effects studies and regulations. Early on, GC with low resolution electron ionization (EI)-MS was used, together with confirmation with chemical standards, for identification work. Later, researchers utilized chemical ionization (CI)-MS to provide molecular weight information and high resolution El-MS to aid in the determination of empirical formulae for the molecular ions and fragments. More recently, liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) with either electrospray ionization (ESI) or atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) has been used to try to uncover highly polar DBPs that most experts believe have been missed by earlier GC-MS studies. Despite 25 years of research in the identification of new DBPs, new ones are being discovered every year, even for chlorine which has been the most extensively studied.
This article was published in J Environ Monit
and referenced in Journal of Environmental & Analytical Toxicology