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Assessment of nitrogen containing disinfection by-products and their precursors in drinking waters of the Mediterranean Basin


Disinfection of drinking water is a successful measure to reduce water-borne diseases and protect health. However, epidemiological evidence links bladder cancer to disinfection by-products (DBPs) formed during drinking water treatment. Disinfection with chlorine is relevant in many European countries and previous research has highlighted the need to improve water quality and decrease concentration of DBPs in countries of the Mediterranean Basin such as Spain. In particular, of the many DBPs currently investigated in drinking water, unregulated nitrogen containing DBPs (N-DBPs) are considered among the most toxic ones. Dissolved organic nitrogen, which acts as precursor for these DBPs, is increasing in many drinking water sources due to usage of impaired waters or climate change. Therefore, there is a need for research to prepare water utilities for these changes, evaluate treatment strategies, and consider the need for adaptation to more stringent regulations.

The main objectives of this project are:
(i) to obtain a database for nationwide occurrence of N-DBPs,
(ii) to investigate the effects of existing treatments on N-DBP formation followed by an evaluation at the full and bench scale of drinking water technologies to predict and minimize their formation, and
(iii) to identify N-DBP precursors with an innovative mass-spectrometry-based approach so that they can be tracked back to their origin and management at source evaluated.

This project aims to transfer the experience and knowledge on DBP science gained in Australia and the U.S. by the incoming researcher Maria José Farré to the Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA) which, led by Prof Damià Barceló is one of the European research centers with the highest potential in analytical chemistry and water quality research.

Call for proposal

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Calle Emili Grahit Edifici H20 101
17003 Girona
Activity type
Research Organisations
EU contribution
€ 173 370,60
Administrative Contact
Jaume Alemany Agulló (Dr.)