A method for quality screening is suggested to detect volatile impurities in inorganic coagulants that are used for drinking water treatment. Static headspace gas chromatography with mass spectrometry detection (HS–GCMS) is sensitive and selective to detect volatiles in low concentrations. This study has discovered that volatile organic impurities are detectable in ferric and aluminium-based coagulants which are used for drinking water treatment. For ferric chloride, 2-propanol was detected at a level of 17–24 mgml1, acetone at 0.7–1.7 mgml1, 1,1,1-trichloroacetone at 0.02–0.04 mgml1, trichloromethane at 0.01–0.02 mgml1 and toluene at 0.01–0.12 mgml1. For ferric chloride sulfate, acetone was detected at a level of 0.12 mgml1, 1,1,1-trichloroacetone at 0.06–0.08 mgml1, trichloromethane at 0.13–0.23 mgml1, bromodichloromethane at 0.04–0.06 mgml1 and dibromochloromethane at 0.04–0.05 mgml1. For aluminium hydroxide chloride, only trichloromethane was detectable, but below the method detection limits (MDL). Although the concentrations of these impurities in commercial coagulants are low, this observation is important and should have impact on water industries for them to pay attention to the chemicals they are using for drinking water production.
- gas chromatography
- volatile organic contaminants
- mass spectrometry
- drinking water treatment