The reaction of chlorine with organic matter has long been known because of the taste and odor problems these reactions have caused in drinking water. In 1973, however, research being conducted in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) research laboratory in Cincinnati, Ohio dramatically changed our understanding of these reactions by identifying for the first time, specific organic compounds that were formed during the disinfection of drinking water with free chlorine. The finding that these compounds were suspected human carcinogens forever changed the view of drinking water disinfection.
Early research was focused in these two locations, the early work on treatment and control being conducted by the engineers and chemists working on the research team I headed. Organizationally this was in the Drinking Water Research Division, USEPA in Cincinnati. This work was the basis of the 1981 book Treatment Techniques for Controlling Trihalomethanes in Drinking Water, published by USEPA and the American Water Works Association (AWWA), now out of print. The scope of this research area has now broadened greatly with dozens of researchers working on the problem and many funding agencies supporting this work, at least $2M per year by the American Water Works Association Research Foundation alone.
Since 1974, my co-workers, students, and I have published many papers on the subject of DBPs. In 1996 my co-investigators and I completed a major project sponsored by the USEPA on DBP precursor control (EPA final report) and a large study sponsored by the American Water Works Association Research Foundation (AWWARF) on the use of chloramination as an alternative to free chlorine as a method of controlling DBP formation. In 1997 I completed a joint project with Dr. Gerald E. Speitel Jr, University of Texas at Austin on the use of advanced oxidation processes and biodegradation for DBP precursor control . My students and I have also studied the UV/Vis-H2O2 AOP Process extensively.