In this study, the distribution of 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (2,4,6-TCA) in two water supply reservoirs and four associated drinking water treatment plants (DWTPs) were investigated. The 2,4,6-TCA concentrations were in the range of 1.53-2.36 ng L-1 in water supply reservoirs and 0.76-6.58 ng L-1 at DWTPs. To determine the contribution of filamentous fungi to 2,4,6-TCA in a full-scale treatment process, the concentrations of 2,4,6-TCA in raw water, settled water, post-filtration water, and finished water were measured. The results showed that 2,4,6-TCA levels continuously increased until chlorination, suggesting that 2,4,6-TCA could form without a chlorination reaction and fungi might be the major contributor to the 2,4,6-TCA formation. Meanwhile, twenty-nine fungal strains were isolated and identified by morphological and molecular biological methods. Of the seventeen isolated fungal species, eleven showed the capability to convert 2,4,6-trichlorophenol (2,4,6-TCP) to 2,4,6-TCA. The highest level of 2,4,6-TCA formation was carried out by Aspergillus versicolor voucher BJ1-3: 40.5% of the original 2,4,6-TCP was converted to 2,4,6-TCA. There was a significant variation in the capability of different species to generate 2,4,6-TCA. The results from the proportions of cell-free, cell-attached, and cell-bound 2,4,6-TCA suggested that 2,4,6-TCA generated by fungi was mainly distributed in their extracellular environment. In addition to 2,4,6-TCA, five putative volatile by-products were also identified by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. These findings increase our understanding on the mechanisms involved in the formation of 2,4,6-TCA and provide insights into managing and controlling 2,4,6-TCA-related problems in drinking water.
Keywords: 2,4,6-Trichlorophenol; Biomethylation; Identification; Taste and odor.
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