DBPbook.jpg (50879 bytes)James M. Symons

Formation and Control of Disinfection By-Products in Drinking Water


Concern about disinfection by-products (DBPs) in drinking water dates back to the first published reports of the occurrence of trihalomethanes (THMs) in finished drinking water which appeared in 1974. Shortly thereafter, THMs were shown to be a by-product of the chlorination of water and were linked to increased cancers of the urinary and digestive tracts. These findings led to the initial regulation of THMs in finished US drinking waters, which occurred in 1979. Since that time, numerous studies have been conducted to identify other by-products arising from the disinfection of water; define water quality and treatment characteristics that lead to the formation of THMs and other DBPs; quantify the occurrence and distribution of DBPs in finished drinking water; develop and assess technologies and treatment modifications for the control of DBPs; evaluate health effects attributable to the presence of DBPs in drinking water; and determine regulatory approaches for balancing the risks between disinfection of drinking water and the production of DBPs arising from the disinfection processes. These studies ultimately led to the promulgation, by the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), of the microbial/disinfection by-product (M/DBP) cluster; a series of rules consisting of the Information Collection Rule (1996), the Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule (1998), and the Disinfectants/Disinfection By-Products Rule (1998).

At the time of publication of this book, the water supply industry is in the midst of evaluating the data amassed from the Information Collection Rule, implementing the Interim Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule, and implementing Stage 1 of the Disinfectants/Disinfection By-Products (D/DBP) Rule. It can be safely assumed that these rules, and subsequent versions and stages of them, will form the framework for water treatment practice in the United States and elsewhere for many years to come.

This book evolved from a symposium held in March, 1997, on the occasion of the retirement of Dr. James M. Symons from the University of Houston.  Dr. Symons served as the head of the Process Control Branch of the Drinking Water Research Division of the USEPA's Office of Research and Development for 20 years until he retired in 1982 to direct the environmental engineering program in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Houston.  Because his tenure at USEPA overlapped with the discovery of THMs in drinking water, he became a central figure in USEPA's efforts to evaluate the formation, control, and regulation of THMs and other DBPs.

This book consists of chapters contributed by a number of individuals, most of whom presented papers at the Symons Symposium and all of whom are recognized experts in the area of formation, regulation, and control of disinfection by-products in drinking water.  The book was edited by Dr. Philip C. Singer of the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering in the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Dr. Singer, like Dr. Symons, has been intimately involved in many phases of DBP research since the THMs were first identified in drinking water in 1974 and has received numerous awards in recognition of his work.  With the high level of interest in the subject of disinfection and disinfection by-products, the chapters in this book are expected to serve as excellent sources of reference material on this central theme of water purification.

This book is now out of print.

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