Haloacetonitriles and haloacetamides precursors in filter backwash and sedimentation sludge water during drinking water treatment

Yunkun Qian, Yue Hu, Yanan Chen, Dong An, Paul Westerhoff, David Hanigan, Wenhai Chu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Haloacetonitriles (HANs) and haloacetamides (HAMs) are nitrogenous disinfection byproducts that are present in filter backwash water (FBW) and sedimentation sludge water (SSW). In many cases FBW and SSW are recycled to the head of drinking water treatment plants. HAN and HAM concentrations in FBW and SSW, without additional oxidants, ranged from 6.8 to 11.6 nM and 2.9 to 3.6 nM of three HANs and four HAMs, respectively. Upon oxidant addition to FBW and SSW under formation potential conditions, concentrations for six HANs and six HAMs ranged from 92.2 to 190.4 nM and 42.2 to 95.5 nM, respectively. Therefore, at common FBW and SSW recycle rates (2 to 10% of treated water flows), the precursor levels in these recycle waters should not be ignored because they are comparable to levels present in finished water. Brominated HAN and chlorinated HAM were the dominant species in FBW and SSW, respectively. The lowest molecular weight ultrafiltration fraction (< 3 kDa) contributed the most to HAN and HAM formations. The hydrophilic (HPI) organic fraction contributed the greatest to HAN precursors in sand-FBW and SSW and were the most reactive HAM precursors in both sand- or carbon-FBWs. Fluorescence revealed that aromatic protein-like compounds were dominant HAN and HAM precursors. Therefore, strategies that remove low molecular weight hydrophilic organic matter and aromatic protein-like compounds will minimize HAN and HAM formations in recycled FBW and SSW.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number116346
JournalWater Research
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • Filter backwash water
  • Haloacetamides, disinfection byproducts
  • Haloacetonitriles
  • Sedimentation sludge water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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