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Carrie W. Capuco
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WE&RF Research to Validate Fast and Less Expensive Method to Analyze NDMA

June 19, 2017 (Alexandria, VA) The Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (WE&RF) recently awarded a contract to the Orange County Water District in California for research that will assist with analysis of nitrosamines in water. WE&RF project Utility Validation of Alternative Method for NDMA Analysis Requiring Less Time, Cost, and Sample Volume (U3R16) seeks to validate a promising high-performance liquid chromatography-photochemical reaction-chemiluminescence method (HPLC-PR-CL) that is faster and less expensive than current methods. The method being studied does not require sample pre-concentration or mass spectrometry, as with conventional methods. If successful, it will be a significant contribution to an industry which regards NDMA as a key contaminant.

For a busy analytical laboratory like OCWD’s, avoiding sample pre-concentration is a major advantage, and the required instrumentation for HPLC-PR-CL is much less expensive than a mass spectrometer. The National Research Council (NRC) recently highlighted the importance of monitoring disinfection byproducts (DBPs), and in particular NDMA, because DBPs occur in treated wastewaters closest to levels of potential human health concern compared to other trace organics (NRC, 2012).

The project is separated into four tasks:

• Task 1 will establish the accuracy of the HPLC-PR-CL method through analysis of reference standards followed by comparison of the method to a conventional, established method.
• Task 2 will determine the precision, linearity, range, detection limits, and stability of the HPLC-PR-CL method.
• Task 3 will determine the method specificity for different recycled water matrices and eliminate potential interferences in the sample.
• Task 4 will assess the method capability for measuring other nitrosamines, in addition to NDMA.

For this research, water from OCWD’s advanced water purification facility will be collected and analyzed.

Given the need for NDMA monitoring in water reclamation and drinking water facilities, the research team expects that there will be significant interest in adopting this new analytical method at wastewater reclamation facilities. The research will develop a Standard Operating Procedure that can be applied to different procedures to sample for NDMA individually or for all other nitrosamines. The research is expected to be completed in 2018.


The Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (WE&RF) is a nonprofit (501c3) organization officially formed in July 2016 as the result of the merger of the Water Environment Research Foundation and the WateReuse Research Foundation. The merged research foundation, with a combined research portfolio representing over $200 million, conducts research to treat and recover beneficial materials from wastewater, stormwater, and seawater including water, nutrients, energy, and biosolids.