Formation and control of disinfection byproducts and toxicity during reclaimed water chlorination: A review

J Environ Sci (China). 2017 Aug:58:51-63. doi: 10.1016/j.jes.2017.01.013. Epub 2017 Feb 10.


Chlorination is essential to the safety of reclaimed water; however, this process leads to concern regarding the formation of disinfection byproducts (DBPs) and toxicity. This study reviewed the formation and control strategies for DBPs and toxicity in reclaimed water during chlorination. Both regulated and emerging DBPs have been frequently detected in reclaimed water during chlorination at a higher level than those in drinking water, indicating they pose a greater risk to humans. Luminescent bacteria and Daphnia magna acute toxicity, anti-estrogenic activity and cytotoxicity generally increased after chlorination because of the formation of DBPs. Genotoxicity by umu-test and estrogenic activity were decreased after chlorination because of destruction of toxic chemicals. During chlorination, water quality significantly impacted changes in toxicity. Ammonium tended to attenuate toxicity changes by reacting with chlorine to form chloramine, while bromide tended to aggravate toxicity changes by forming hypobromous acid. During pretreatment by ozonation and coagulation, disinfection byproduct formation potential (DBPFP) and toxicity formation potential (TFP) occasionally increase, which is accompanied by DOC removal; thus, the decrease of DOC was limited to indicate the decrease of DBPFP and TFP. It is more important to eliminate the key fraction of precursors such as hydrophobic acid and hydrophilic neutrals. During chlorination, toxicities can increase with the increasing chlorine dose and contact time. To control the excessive toxicity formation, a relatively low chlorine dose and short contact time were required. Quenching chlorine residual with reductive reagents also effectively abated the formation of toxic compounds.

Keywords: Chlorination; Disinfection byproducts; Precursor; Reclaimed water; Toxicity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disinfectants / analysis*
  • Disinfectants / toxicity
  • Disinfection / methods
  • Halogenation
  • Humans
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Water Purification / methods*


  • Disinfectants
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical