Tribromopyrrole, brominated acids, and other disinfection byproducts produced by disinfection of drinking water rich in bromide

Susan D. Richardson, Alfred D. Thruston, Chaim Rav-Acha, Ludmila Groisman, Inna Popilevsky, Olga Juraev, Victor Glezer, A. Bruce McKAgue, Michael J. Plewa, Elizabeth D. Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS), we investigated the formation of disinfection byproducts (DBPs)from high bromide waters (2 mg/L) treated with chlorine or chlorine dioxide used in combination with chlorine and chloramines. This study represents the first comprehensive investigation of DBPs formed by chlorine dioxide under high bromide conditions. Drinking water from full-scale treatment plants in Israel was studied, along with source water (Sea of Galilee) treated under carefully controlled laboratory conditions. Select DBPs (trihalomethanes, haloacetic acids, aldehydes, chlorite, chlorate, and bromate) were quantified. Many of the DBPs identified have not been previously reported, and several of the identifications were confirmed through the analysis of authentic standards. Elevated bromide levels in the source water caused a significant shift in speciation to bromine-containing DBPs; bromoform and dibromoacetic acid were the dominant DBPs observed, with very few chlorine-containing compounds found. Iodo-trihalomethanes were also identified, as well as a number of new brominated carboxylic acids and 2,3,5-tribromopyrrole, which represents the first time a halogenated pyrrole has been reported as a DBP. Most of the bromine-containing DBPs were formed during pre-chlorination at the initial reservoir, and were not formed by chlorine dioxide itself. An exception was the iodo-THMs, which appeared to be formed by a combination of chlorine dioxide with chloramines or chlorine (either added deliberately or as an impurity in the chlorine dioxide). A separate laboratory study was also conducted to quantitatively determine the contribution of fulvic acids and humic acids (from isolated natural organic matter in the Sea of Galilee) as precursor material to several of the DBPs identified. Results showed that fulvic acid plays a greater role in the formation of THMs, haloacetic acids, and aldehydes, but 2,3,5-tribromopyrrole was produced primarily from humic acid. Because this was the first time a halopyrrole has been identified as a DBP, 2,3,5-tribromopyrrole was tested for mammalian cell cytotoxicity and genotoxicity. In comparison to other DBPs, 2,3,5-tribromopyrrole was 8x, 4.5x, and 16x more cytotoxic than dibromoacetic acid, 3-chloro-4-(dichloromethyl)-5-hydroxy-2-[5H]-furanone [MX], and potassium bromate, respectively. 2,3,5-Tribromopyrrole also induced acute genomic damage, with a genotoxic potency (299 μM) similar to that of MX.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3782-3793
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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