Boiling of simulated tap water: effect on polar brominated disinfection byproducts, halogen speciation, and cytotoxicity.
Environ Sci Technol. 2014 Jan 7 ;48(1):149-56. Epub 2013 Dec 13. PMID: 24308807
Tap water typically contains numerous halogenated disinfection byproducts (DBPs) as a result of disinfection, especially of chlorination. Among halogenated DBPs, brominated ones are generally significantly more toxic than their chlorinated analogues. In this study, with the aid of ultra performance liquid chromatography/electrospray ionization-triple quadrupole mass spectrometry by setting precursor ion scans of m/z 79/81, whole spectra of polar brominated DBPs in simulated tap water samples without and with boiling were revealed. Most polar brominated DBPs were thermally unstable and their levels were substantially reduced after boiling via decarboxylation or hydrolysis; the levels of a few aromatic brominated DBPs increased after boiling through decarboxylation of their precursors. A novel adsorption unit for volatile total organic halogen was designed, which enabled the evaluation of halogen speciation and mass balances in the simulated tap water samples during boiling. After boiling for 5 min, the overall level of brominated DBPs was reduced by 62.8%, of which 39.8% was volatilized and 23.0% was converted to bromide; the overall level of chlorinated DBPs was reduced by 61.1%, of which 44.4% was volatilized and 16.7% was converted to chloride; the overall level of halogenated DBPs was reduced by 62.3%. The simulated tap water sample without boiling was cytotoxic in a chronic (72 h) exposure to mammalian cells; this cytotoxicity was reduced by 76.9% after boiling for 5 min. The reduction in cytotoxicity corresponded with the reduction in overall halogenated DBPs. Thus, boiling of tap water can be regarded as a"detoxification"process and may reduce human exposure to halogenated DBPs through tap water ingestion.