Molecular Weight Separation and HPLC/MS/MS Characterization of Previously Unidentified Drinking Water Disinfection By-Products

EPA Grant Number: R826834
Title: Molecular Weight Separation and HPLC/MS/MS Characterization of Previously Unidentified Drinking Water Disinfection By-Products
Investigators: Minear, Roger A. , Barrett, Sylvia
Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign , Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Project Period: November 1, 1998 through October 31, 2001
Project Amount: $363,591
RFA: Drinking Water (1998) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Drinking Water , Water


A study is proposed in which new approaches are to be developed for better characterizing disinfection by-product (DBP) molecular weight profiles by using tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) techniques. The study will include examination of the differences in DBPs that result from different water disinfection processes. The underlying hypothesis of this work is that new approaches are needed for this assessment and tandem mass spectrometry, coupled with prior separations, offers promise in that regard.


A prerequisite to making such procedures meaningful is the development of pre separation procedures that will simplify the mass spectral data. The MS/MS system affords easy assessment of molecular weight in the first stage followed by generation of specific chemical structural data on the mass selected species distributions via measurement of related fragments from the selected ion. The MS/MS system, hence, has its own separation capabilities. The proposed work is directed at enhancing these capabilities for complex DBP mixtures with pre selection by molecular size separations using ultra filtration (UF) membranes and size exclusion chromatography (SEC). These preselected molecular size fractions would then be followed by other high performance liquid chromatographic (HPLC) techniques.

Expected Results:

It is expected that more than molecular weight information will be developed from the planned experiments. The use of several disinfection processes on the same samples will also provide additional insight as to how DBPs differ as a result of variations in the disinfection process. The specific HPLC separation processes, such as size exclusion chromatography and reverse phase chromatography, are expected to provide additional clues as to the chemical characteristics of unidentified DBPs. The research will also provide information on the molecular distribution of the DBPs collectively and specific information on the halogenated components distribution.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 25 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 7 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

environmental chemistry, water supply, natural organic matter., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Water, Waste, Chemical Engineering, Environmental Chemistry, Physics, Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, chemical mixtures, Drinking Water, monitoring, alternative disinfection methods, public water systems, complex mixtures, human health effects, molecular weight separation, exposure and effects, chemical byproducts, disinfection byproducts (DPBs), exposure, community water system, HPLC, treatment, tandem mass spectrometry, toxicity, DBP risk management, water quality, drinking water contaminants, drinking water treatment, other - risk management

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1999 Progress Report
  • 2000 Progress Report
  • Final Report