Occurrence and Comparative Toxicity of Haloacetaldehyde Disinfection Byproducts in Drinking Water

Clara H. Jeong, Cristina Postigo, Susan D. Richardson, Jane Ellen Simmons, Susana Y. Kimura, Benito J. Mariñas, Damia Barcelo, Pei Liang, Elizabeth D. Wagner, Michael Jacob Plewa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The introduction of drinking water disinfection greatly reduced waterborne diseases. However, the reaction between disinfectants and natural organic matter in the source water leads to an unintended consequence, the formation of drinking water disinfection byproducts (DBPs). The haloacetaldehydes (HALs) are the third largest group by weight of identified DBPs in drinking water. The primary objective of this study was to analyze the occurrence and comparative toxicity of the emerging HAL DBPs. A new HAL DBP, iodoacetaldehyde (IAL) was identified. This study provided the first systematic, quantitative comparison of HAL toxicity in Chinese hamster ovary cells. The rank order of HAL cytotoxicity is tribromoacetaldehyde (TBAL) ≈ chloroacetaldehyde (CAL) > dibromoacetaldehyde (DBAL) ≈ bromochloroacetaldehyde (BCAL) ≈ dibromochloroacetaldehyde (DBCAL) > IAL > bromoacetaldehyde (BAL) ≈ bromodichloroacetaldehyde (BDCAL) > dichloroacetaldehyde (DCAL) > trichloroacetaldehyde (TCAL). The HALs were highly cytotoxic compared to other DBP chemical classes. The rank order of HAL genotoxicity is DBAL > CAL ≈ DBCAL > TBAL ≈ BAL > BDCAL > BCAL ≈ DCAL > IAL. TCAL was not genotoxic. Because of their toxicity and abundance, further research is needed to investigate their mode of action to protect the public health and the environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13749-13759
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number23
StatePublished - May 5 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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