Impact of simulated solar irradiation on disinfection byproduct precursors

Alex T. Chow, Dina M. Leech, Treavor H. Boyer, Philip C. Singer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is the major drinking water source for 23 million California residents. Consequently, many studies have examined disinfection byproduct (DBP) formation in relation to Delta dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentration. However, DOC characteristics within the Delta are not the same as those entering downstream water treatment facilities. As water is transferred to Southern California through the California Aqueduct, a 714.5 km-open channel, it is exposed to sunlight, potentially altering DBP precursors. We collected water from three sites within the Delta and one nearthe California Aqueduct, representing different DOC sources, and irradiated them in a solar simulator at a dose equivalent to that received during four days conveyance in the aqueduct. Photolytic changes in DOC were assessed by measuring CO 2 and organic acid production, fluorescence, and ultraviolet absorbance over time. Trihalomethane (THM) and haloacetic acid (HAA) formation potentials, as well as the distribution of hydrophobic, transphilic, and hydrophilic acid fractions were determined at exposures equivalent to one and four days. Solar irradiation significantly decreased ultraviolet absorbance and fluorescence intensity, produced organic acids, and increased the hydrophilic fraction of waters. These changes in DOC caused a shift in bromine incorporation among the THM and HAA species. Our results are the first to demonstrate the importance of sunlight in altering DOC with respect to DBP formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5586-5593
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 1 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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