Algal-derived organic matter as precursors of disinfection by-products and mutagens upon chlorination

Y. S. Lui, Jianwen QIU, Y. L. Zhang, Ming Hung WONG, Yan Liang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Algal-derived organic materials (including algal cells, hydrophilic and hydrophobic proteins) from Chlamydomonas sp. (a common green alga in local reservoirs), were chlorinated in the laboratory (20 °C, pH 7, Cl2/DOC ratio of 20 mg Cl2 mg-1). Levels of disinfection by-products and mutagenicity (via Salmonella T100 mutation assay, -S9) over 2 h of chlorination time were determined. The hydrophilic proteins were more effective precursors of chloroform (35.9 μmol L-1 at 120 min), 35 times greater than that from the hydrophobic proteins; whereas the hydrophobic proteins were more potent precursors of direct-acting mutagens (maximum level of 50.1 rev μL-1 at 30 s) than the hydrophilic proteins (maximum level of 3.38 rev μL-1 at 60 min). The mutagenicity of the chlorinated solutions generally reached a peak level shortly after chlorination and then declined afterwards, a pattern different from that of chloroform generation. The results indicate that algal hydrophilic proteins, containing low aromaticity and difficult to be removed via coagulation/flocculation, are important chloroform precursors. It is also suggested that hydrophobic organic intermediates with low molecular weight formed during chlorination may serve as the direct-acting mutagens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1454-1462
Number of pages9
JournalWater Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011

Scopus Subject Areas

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

User-Defined Keywords

  • Algal hydrophilic protein
  • Algal hydrophobic protein
  • Chlamydomonas sp.
  • Chlorination intermediate by-products
  • Mutagenic potency


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