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Assessment of disinfection by-products in drinking water in Korea1


The main purpose of applying the chlorination process during water treatment is for disinfection. Research results, however, indicate that disinfection by-products (DBPs) including trihalomethanes (THMs), haloacetic acids (HAAs), haloacetonitriles (HANs), haloketones (HKs), and chloropicrin (CP) can be produced by the chlorination process. Some of these DBPs are known to be potential human carcinogens. This 3-year project is designed to establish a standard analysis procedure for DBPs in drinking water of this country and investigate the distribution and sources of specific DBPs. The occurrence level of DBPs in drinking water was below 50 μg/l in most cases. THMs in plant effluent accounted for 60% of all DBPs measured, whereas HAAs accounted for 20%, HANs 12%, HKs 5% and CP 3%. Chloroform was found to be the major THMs compound (77%), followed by bromodichloromethane (BDCM, 18%) and bromoform (BF, 3%). The concentration of DBPs formed in distribution systems increased from those detected in plant effluent. Comparison of humic acid and sewage as precursors for THMs formation showed that humic acid was the major THMs precursor. Results would play an important role in exposure assessment as a part of the risk assessment process, and would give basic information for establishment of DBPs reduction and management procedures.

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Correspondence to DONGCHUN SHIN.

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Presented at the 7th Annual Meeting of the International Society of Exposure Analysis, November 2–5, 1997, Research Triangle Park, NC.

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SHIN, D., CHUNG, Y., CHOI, Y. et al. Assessment of disinfection by-products in drinking water in Korea1. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 9, 192–199 (1999).

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  • disinfection by-products (DBPs)
  • drinking water
  • human exposure.


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