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Identifying and Minimizing Carcinogen Formation in Recycled Wastewater

Extreme water shortages in California and other arid regions have renewed interest in wastewater recycling. Objective risk assessments of human health hazards from recycled water consumption indicate that the major chemical risk comes from disinfection byproducts (DBPs). DBPs are compounds that form as a result of reactions between chemical or ultraviolet disinfectants and organic precursors. Our research focuses on identifying the chemical precursors and formation mechanisms of priority DBPs, and employing this knowledge to minimize their formation to ensure safe wastewater reuse

Catalytic water treatment with O2(aq)

Despite over 100 years of drinking water disinfection, options for chemical disinfection and oxidation are very limited. Meanwhile surface water naturally contains an oxidant at 0.25 mM: dissolved oxygen. We are exploiting heterogeneous catalysts developed by synthetic chemists, to oxidize trace organic contaminants in water using dissolved oxygen as the terminal electron acceptor. In particular, we are focusing on oxidation of low molecular weight aldehydes, which are toxic electrophiles recently identified as contaminants in final recycled wastewater at reuse operations.

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