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Copper catalysis in chloroform formation during water chlorination

Copper catalysis in chloroform formation during water chlorination

Water Research 37(18): 4385-4394

The seminal work of Rook initiated a considerable body of research regarding the formation of trihalomethanes (THMs) and other by-products of chlorine-based disinfection. Since that time, a broad spectrum of compounds has been identified as precursors to THM formation. More recently, it has been demonstrated that the presence of copper in solution enhances THM formation. Copper is known to catalyze a number of reactions that are similar to the conventional haloform reaction. A study was therefore initiated to investigate the specific role played by copper in the formation of chloroform during chlorination of water supplies. Aqueous solutions containing a number of known THM precursors were chlorinated in the presence and absence of copper, and subjected to time-course monitoring of chloroform concentration. The results of experiments with humic acid demonstrated an apparent catalytic effect on the part of copper in chloroform formation. To examine the role of copper in greater detail, a series of experiments involving aqueous solutions of pure compounds of humic substance structural units was conducted. Of the pure compounds investigated as THM precursors, only citric acid demonstrated enhanced chloroform formation in the presence of copper. A detailed matrix of experiments conducted with citric acid as a precursor demonstrated that copper, at environmentally relevant concentrations, can have a profound effect on chloroform formation. Based on previously published information regarding the mechanism of chloroform formation from citric acid and the results of these experiments, it is hypothesized that copper promotes chloroform formation from chlorination of citric acid through catalysis of oxidative decarboxylation, and the subsequent chlorination of beta-ketoglutaric acid.

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Accession: 004089420

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PMID: 14511709

DOI: 10.1016/s0043-1354(03)00404-4

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