Nonvolatile mutagens in drinking water: production by chlorination and destruction by sulfite

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Science  04 Jan 1980:
Vol. 207, Issue 4426, pp. 90-92
DOI: 10.1126/science.6985746


In concentrates of water produced in a laboratory simulation of a drinking water treatment process, direct-acting, nonvolatile mutagens were readily detected by means of the Ames Salmonella test. The mutagens were shown to be produced by the chlorination process. Treatment of the water with chloramine resulted in less mutagenic activity than treatment with free chlorine. Dechlorination of drinking water with sulfite sharply reduced the mutagenic activity. Treatment with sulfur dioxide is proposed as an effective, inexpensive method of reducing the direct-acting mutagenic activity of drinking water and of aqueous industrial effluents.