Probing reactivity of dissolved organic matter for disinfection by-product formation using XAD-8 resin adsorption and ultrafiltration fractionation

Water Res. 2002 Sep;36(15):3834-48. doi: 10.1016/s0043-1354(02)00094-5.


The disinfection by-product (DBP) reactivity (yield and speciation upon reaction with chlorine) of dissolved organic matter (DOM) isolated from two surface waters was investigated. The source waters, each having significantly different specific ultraviolet absorbance (SUVA254), molecular weight (MW) distribution and polarity, were fractionated using XAD-8 resin adsorption and ultrafiltration (UF), with good DOM mass balance closures (based on dissolved organic carbon). It was found that such fractionation preserved both the SUVA and the reactivity of the source waters, as demonstrated by statistically similar DBP formation and speciation from chlorinated source water and source waters reconstituted from XAD-8 or UF fractions. In addition, there was no evidence of synergistic effects among DOM components when reacting with chlorine. Consistent trends between DBP yields and MW were not found. Hydrophobic fractions of DOM (isolated by XAD-8) were the most reactive DOM components; however, hydrophilic components also showed appreciable DBP yields, contributing up to 50% of total DBP formation. In contrast, strong and unique correlations were observed between the SUVA of individual fractions and their trihalomethane (THM) and haloacetic acid (HAA9) yields, confirming that the aromaticity of DOM components is more directly related to reactivity than other physicochemical properties. The finding of a single correlation independent of the fractionation process employed is notable because XAD-8 adsorption and UF fractionate DOM by significantly different mechanisms. These results confirm that SUVA is a distributed parameter that reflects DOM heterogeneity. Therefore, the SUVA distribution within natural water represents an important property that can be used as a reliable predictor of DBP formation. Finally, bromine appears to be more effectively incorporated into low UV-absorbing (i.e., low SUVA), low MW and hydrophilic DOM fractions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adsorption
  • Chlorine Compounds / analysis*
  • Chlorine Compounds / chemistry
  • Disinfectants / analysis
  • Disinfectants / chemistry*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Filtration
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Solubility
  • Ultraviolet Rays
  • Water Purification*
  • Water Supply*


  • Chlorine Compounds
  • Disinfectants
  • Organic Chemicals