Breaking News
May 23, 2018 - New efforts to curb high blood pressure in Asia
May 23, 2018 - Malaria-causing parasite seeks refuge inside the liver to replicate and survive
May 23, 2018 - Slower rates of stimulation may be more effective in brain therapy, suggests research
May 23, 2018 - Study finds connection between one partner’s BMI and other spouse’s risk of developing diabetes
May 23, 2018 - Mapping the Genes Responsible for Pluripotency
May 23, 2018 - FDA Alert: Homeopathic Teething Drops, Nausea Drops, Intestinal Colic Drops, Stomach Calm, Expectorant Cough Syrup, Silver-Zinc Throat Spray, and Argentum Elixir by MBI Distributing: Recall
May 23, 2018 - Genetic fixer-uppers may predict bladder cancer prognosis
May 23, 2018 - Investigational technology could increase donor organ supply for lung transplants
May 23, 2018 - Prediabetic patients with OSA could lower their resting heart rates by using CPAP
May 23, 2018 - Schizophrenics’ blood samples feature genetic material from more types of microorganisms
May 23, 2018 - Subtle hearing deficits can change the brains of young people
May 23, 2018 - New study shows increased rates of hospitalization for suicide among youths
May 23, 2018 - Proportion of Drug-Intoxicated Organ Donors on the Rise in U.S.
May 23, 2018 - Using virtual biopsies to improve melanoma detection
May 23, 2018 - Compassion meditation training may increase brain’s resilience to suffering of other people
May 23, 2018 - New AAD PSA uses social media imagery to highlight tanning hazards
May 23, 2018 - Medicaid expansion linked to reduction in ICU utilization
May 23, 2018 - Proteins moderating nicotine dependence may help fat cells burn energy
May 23, 2018 - Researchers identify mechanisms that regulate mammary gland development
May 23, 2018 - ‘Low-Alcohol’ Booze Labels May Backfire
May 23, 2018 - New research shows that children with autism are able to create imaginary friends
May 23, 2018 - New technology could make prosthetic use more intuitive and reliable
May 23, 2018 - HU researchers explore how simulated microgravity affects gene expression, muscle cell differentiation
May 23, 2018 - Researchers develop injectable bandage to stop fatal blood loss, activate wound healing
May 23, 2018 - Exercising for 4-5 days per week is needed to keep the heart young
May 23, 2018 - Porvair Sciences offers wide range of reagent reservoirs for use with automated liquid handling systems
May 23, 2018 - New study unravels secrets of HIV’s persistence
May 23, 2018 - IDF launches initiative to improve health services for displaced people with diabetes
May 23, 2018 - Maintaining healthy weight between early adulthood and middle age could help avoid diabetes
May 23, 2018 - DNA vaccine shows promise for colorectal cancer
May 23, 2018 - Abnormal brain connections seen in preschoolers with autism
May 23, 2018 - Study finds increase in number of calls to US Poison Control Centers about ADHD medication exposures
May 23, 2018 - Yoghurt before a meal packed with health benefits
May 23, 2018 - New tool predicts the lifetime risk of Alzheimer’s
May 23, 2018 - Scientists reveal mechanisms that may help preterm infants extend nephron development window
May 23, 2018 - Unnecessary antibiotic use for asthma exacerbations linked to increased hospital stays, costs
May 23, 2018 - Quitting cigarettes linked to better lung health than long-term light smoking
May 23, 2018 - Researchers shed light on how androgen deprivation therapy increases risk for cardiovascular mortality
May 23, 2018 - Ingesting blue dye tablet during colonoscopy aids in detecting difficult-to-see polyps
May 23, 2018 - Patients with low-back pain benefit from early physical therapy
May 23, 2018 - Researchers discover link between tuberculosis and Parkinson’s disease
May 23, 2018 - FDA Approves Doptelet (avatrombopag) for Chronic Liver Disease Patients with Thrombocytopenia who are Undergoing a Medical Procedure
May 23, 2018 - Is knee pain linked to depression?
May 23, 2018 - Research team uncovers new information that more accurately explains formation of tumors
May 23, 2018 - Brain stimulation shows promise in treating obesity by reducing food cravings
May 23, 2018 - Mediterranean diet may protect people from negative effects of air pollution
May 23, 2018 - Researcher aims to develop virtual biopsy tool for early melanoma detection
May 23, 2018 - Medical centers more willing to perform lung transplants for severe alcoholic hepatitis patients
May 23, 2018 - The brain may tune to social learning even at rest, finds study
May 23, 2018 - Eczema drug alleviates asthma symptoms and improves lung function
May 23, 2018 - Researchers to test two-pronged approach in humans to treat advanced colorectal cancer
May 23, 2018 - FDA Alert: Juluca, Tivicay, Triumeq (dolutegravir): FDA to Evaluate
May 23, 2018 - Neuroscientists say daily ibuprofen can prevent Alzheimer’s disease
May 23, 2018 - Scientists decipher workings of little-understood bacterial riboswitch
May 23, 2018 - Investigational drug offers hope of relief for celiac disease patients exposed to gluten
May 23, 2018 - PCI along with prescribed drugs better than medication alone for treating for people with heart disease
May 23, 2018 - ToolGen’s CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing platform improves T-cell anti-tumor activity in mouse model
May 22, 2018 - FDA approves new drug to treat thrombocytopenia in adults with chronic liver disease
May 22, 2018 - CSIRO study urges Australians to avoid junk protein foods for healthy weight loss
May 22, 2018 - Breath Test Shows Promise for Diagnosis of Esophagogastric CA
May 22, 2018 - Common class of drugs linked to dementia even when taken 20 years before diagnosis
May 22, 2018 - Optimal Biomarker Frequency for Biosensors
May 22, 2018 - Ethics of conducting clinical research during public health emergencies
May 22, 2018 - FDA Approves Aimovig (erenumab), The First Drug Aimed at Preventing Migraines
May 22, 2018 - Warning labels on alcohol containers highly deficient, new research shows
May 22, 2018 - Doctors publish comprehensive proposal to ensure universal access to safe, affordable medications
May 22, 2018 - When is insurance not really insurance? When you need pricey dental care.
May 22, 2018 - Thyroid tumors may be more susceptible to precisely targeted radiation treatment, suggests study
May 22, 2018 - Researchers uncover clues to early lung transplant failure
May 22, 2018 - Coagulation Factor Tests: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information
May 22, 2018 - Booze ads cause risky drinking in young people
May 22, 2018 - Are you and your primary care doc ready to talk about your DNA?
May 22, 2018 - UCI research team uncovers new unexpected mode of neurotransmitter-based communication
May 22, 2018 - Researcher develops nanoparticle-based tags to detect viruses and cancer with high sensitivity
May 22, 2018 - Researchers highlight need for transgender-inclusive healthcare providers
May 22, 2018 - Celgene to share new and updated data around novel hematological therapies
May 22, 2018 - Scientists identify cell types underlying schizophrenia
May 22, 2018 - ACR urges legislative action on access and cost barriers in rheumatologic care
May 22, 2018 - Study examines link between nicotine dependence and likelihood to quit smoking after lung cancer screening
May 22, 2018 - Experts highlight the need to move beyond conventional cost-effectiveness analysis
Can GAC Be Used to Control Priority Unregulated DBPs in Drinking Water?

Can GAC Be Used to Control Priority Unregulated DBPs in Drinking Water?

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

An interview with Professor Susan Richardson, conducted by Stuart Milne, BA

Your presentation at Pittcon focussed on GAC for controlling priority unregulated disinfection by-products (DBPs) in drinking water. What are the current challenges associated with unregulated DBPs in drinking water?

The US EPA currently regulates only 11 disinfection by-products, DBPs, in drinking water, but we have identified, more than 700. Many scientists, myself included, believe that the human health effects that we see in epidemiologic studies, may be related to some of the more toxic, unregulated DBPs that are not controlled currently through drinking water regulations.

© Bulgn/Shutterstock.com

Why has granular activated carbon (GAC) received renewed interest compared to other methods?

We have known about GAC for around 30 years, and there has been a lot of promising research on it, but despite this, in many cases it has not been put in place as many people think that it would be too expensive to switch to GAC. Instead, a number of drinking water treatment plants have switched disinfectants, for example from using chlorine to chloramine, to lower the levels of regulated DBPs. By switching disinfectants in this way, plants that previously struggled to meet regulations can become compliant.  

However, we have noticed that potentially hazardous DBPs can occur as a result of the switch, including NDMA, nitrosodimethylamine, a very potent carcinogen. So now, the U.S. EPA and the research community are thinking of how to reach a suitable solution by going back to square one and asking the initial question – are there ways we can remove the precursor material better to prevent DBP formation, and ultimately lower the level of DBPs?

There has been some indication that brominated species may increase in formation when using GAC. What research have you done to investigate the ability of GAC to remove unregulated DBPs?

Earlier studies indicated that two regulated brominated trihalomethanes increased with the use of GAC. However, no research had been done beyond that to look at other brominated DBPs, ones that are more toxic than regulated DBPs.

That’s where we came in – we took about 60 unregulated priority DBPs, developed analytical methods for them, measured them with and without GAC, and with different types of GAC. We also experimented with different disinfectants, with and without prechlorination, and even using chloramination.

We’re investigating, for the first time, a really broad sweep of DBPs, including the really toxic brominated ones, to understand if GAC will work for them.

What analytical techniques have you used to investigate these DBPs?

We use gas chromatography with mass spectrometry, GC-MS, and also GC-MS/MS, tandem mass spectrometry. Another tool that we use is a total organic halogen (TOX) analyzer. With the TOX analyzer, we can measure not only the DBPs that we know are in the drinking water, but it also accounts for the chlorinated, brominated, and iodinated material that we don’t about and can’t measure yet.

In general, the brominated and iodinated DBPs are much more toxic than the chlorinated ones, so the total organic halogen analysis gives us an idea of what’s there (beyond the things we can measure). And, with the 60 DBPs that we are quantifying, we’re able to get a very comprehensive measurement of the DBPs.

Ultimately, our aim is to make drinking water safer, and so we want to find out if GAC can do this.

What impact does the age of GAC and types of GAC have on filtering DBPs in drinking water?

The aging of GAC is much like how we expect the material in our home water filters to age – after a while, you need to change it.  GAC at a drinking water treatment plant is like having a huge Brita filter.

Sites within the filter get filled up with material as it sorbs and removes unwanted materials from your water, to the point where they stop removing DBP precursors as effectively – then it’s time to regenerate that GAC.

Does GAC offer a long-term solution for reducing levels of unregulated DBPs in drinking water?

I would say so, especially as we saw such good results with it. Some of the plants we looked at were reducing the DBP levels by as much as 80% with a young GAC filter.

It is worth noting that in some cases however, we did see an increase in some brominated DBPs that were toxic, just like the early work that saw two of the brominated trihalomethanes increase. But overall, when we looked at it across the board, it’s still a beneficial route to take in producing safer water.

What are the next steps in your research?

Although we were able to measure the DBPs and the total organic halogen under all kinds of scenarios in our research, we were limited by our funding in that we were not able to get real toxicology testing – instead, we calculated the in vitro cytotoxicity using the measured DBPs that we have, and using the cytotoxicity potencies that we know of from other studies.

Therefore, our next steps are to have real toxicity involved in our work, combining the chemistry and comprehensive toxicology.

What did you gain from attending Pittcon 2018 and discussing your research?

I love sharing my research with others, it’s good to inform others on the work we are doing.

If I’m able to educate people with my talk at Pittcon, that GAC is a good way to go, then maybe others will promote that in their utilities and share their new knowledge with people they know in the field.

I also attend Pittcon to learn, too. I learned about new analytical techniques, new developments, new findings. It’s always exciting to come to conferences and learn new things. That’s a big part of it!

Where can we find more information?

About Prof. Susan Richardson

Susan D. Richardson is the Arthur Sease Williams Professor of Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of South Carolina.  Prior to coming to USC in January 2014, she was a Research Chemist for several years at the U.S. EPA’s National Exposure Research Laboratory in Athens, GA.  For the last several years, Susan has been conducting research in drinking water—specifically in the study of toxicologically important disinfection by-products (DBPs).

Susan is the recipient of the 2008 American Chemical Society Award for Creative Advancements in Environmental Science & Technology, has received an honorary doctorate from Cape Breton University in Canada (2006), was recently recognized as an ACS Fellow (2016), and was recently elected Vice President / President Elect of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry (2018).

She also serves as an Associate Editor of Environmental Science & Technology and for Water Research and is on the Editorial Advisory Board of Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, Journal of Hazardous Materials, Environmental Science and Pollution Research, and Journal of Environmental Sciences.  Susan has published more than 140 journal articles and book chapters and has written many invited biennial reviews for the journal Analytical Chemistry—on Emerging Contaminants in Water Analysis and Environmental Mass Spectrometry, She has a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Emory University and a B.S. in Chemistry & Mathematics from Georgia College & State University.

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles