Low toxicological impact of wastewaters on drinking water sources
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Surface waters may contain varying levels of wastewater effluent associated with de facto reuse, which may influence their toxicological properties both prior to and following treatment. This study examined the genotoxic response of three surface waters containing a range of wastewater effluent (5%, 10%, and 25% by volume). The SOS Chromotest™ was used to assay the genotoxicity of both chlorinated and unchlorinated mixtures. Chlorinated mixtures were also analyzed for trihalomethanes (THMs), haloacetonitriles (HANs), and halonitromethanes (HNMs); their concentrations were used to calculate a relative toxicity index for each sample, based on published potencies in the comet assay and subsequently referred to as predicted genotoxicity. Wastewater effluents were observed to be reactive in the genotoxicity assay, whereas raw and chlorinated surface waters were not. Upon chlorination, surface waters containing 5% or 10% wastewater did not elicit a response and only modest effects were observed for higher wastewater ratios (25%). The measured SOS responses correlated well with predicted genotoxicity (R = 0.92) and THM concentrations (R = 0.92). This is important since THMs themselves are non-reactive in either the SOS or comet genotoxic assays, but their formation may serve as surrogates for non-regulated DBPs which drive toxic effects.
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