Report No DWI0137

THE FORMATION OF BROMATE DURING DRINKING WATER DISINFECTION (DWE7101) Final Report to the Department of the Environment DoE 3397


Apr 1993


An increase in interest in the use of ozone in drinking water treatment has led to concern over the formation of ozonation by-products. Of particular concern is bromate which can be formed from the ozonation of raw waters containing bromide. In addition it is possible that bromate could be present in chlorinated waters (viathe use of hypochlorite for disinfection).

Bromate has been classified by the International Agency for Researchon Cancer (IARC) as having sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in laboratory animals. The World Health Organization have set a provisional guideline value of 25 g/l in their forthcoming revision of the drinking water guidelines. This value was set to take accountof analytical problems associated with measuring bromate - the value obtained from low dose extrapolation models is 3g/l (at an upper 95% confidence limit risk of 1 in 10% of the population). There are few data available on the formation and occurrence of bromate in UK waters. Consequently, a review of current knowledge concerning bromate formation during drinking water disinfection was undertaken. Possible control options for minimising bromate formation were assessed from recent literature findings. In addition, a limited survey of bromide and bromate concentrations in UK treated waters (both chlorinated and ozonated) was carried out.

The literature review revealed that bromate could readily be formed from the ozonation of waters containing bromide under typical water treatment conditions. There is some evidence that, under certain conditions, chlorine can oxidise bromide to bromate. However, there have been no reports of bromate formation from chlorination under realistic treatment conditions. Commercial sodium hypochlorite has been found to contain bromate as a contaminant (probably produced from the bromide present in the brine used in hypochlorite production) and this could give rise to low g/l levels of bromate in chlorinated drinking water. There seems to be some scope for minimising bromate formation by modifying treatment processes (e.g. ozone dose, ozone residual, pH). However, limiting bromate formation could result in increased levels of brominated organic by-products.

The survey of treated drinking waters revealed that bromate was produced from ozonation. Concentrations of 10 - 20 g/l were detected at two of the four sites sampled, with bromide concentrations in the corresponding raw waters of >100 g/l. At two other sites the raw waters contained very low levels of bromide (<20g/l ) and no bromate was detected after ozonation. Bromate was only detected in one of the chlorinated samples analysed - from a treatment works using hypochlorite for disinfection. Bromate was also detected in samples of hypochlorite produced by on-site electrolytic generation, although no bromate was detected in final waters disinfected using hypochlorite generated in this way. The use of hypochlorite for disinfection would seem to be the most likely source of bromate in chlorinated drinking water - the formation of bromate from the oxidation of bromide by chlorine would appear unlikely under normal drinking water treatment conditions.

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