Superfund Research Program
Evaluating the Feasibility of the TotalTHM-NOW for Drinking Water Treatment Plants to Improve Water Quality, Reduce Costs, and Lower Cancer Risks
Project Leader: Michael Brown
Grant Number: R43ES031465
Funding Period: Phase I: September 2019 - February 2020
Research has suggested that there is an increased risk of cancer associated with long-term exposure to drinking water containing halogenated disinfection by-products (DBPs). Trihalomethanes (THMs) are the most common class of halogenated DBPs formed during water chlorination. Every year, thousands of drinking water treatment plants (WTPs) struggle with THM compliance issues, often allocating significant portions of the operating budget toward electrical and chemical means to minimize THM formation. Unfortunately, most WTP operators adjust treatment processes without having on-site, real-time THM concentration data on which to base their decisions, leading to excess chemical and energy usage and higher operating costs. Standard methods are suitable for quarterly compliance monitoring of THMs but are often too expensive and not well-suited for continuous real-time monitoring. While there are commercial devices for on-site, real-time THM monitoring, they are not affordable for most WTPs.
The research team is developing a commercial version of their pre-prototype TotalTHM-NOW analyzer at a price point of ~$25K to provide most WTPs the ability to respond in real time to minimize THM concentrations produced at the WTP and in the distribution system. This lowers the risk of cancer from THMs for communities across the Unites States, large and small, rural and metro. The TotalTHM-NOW analyzer is fully automated and designed for operators with skill levels consistent with typical WTP personnel. Ultimately, the result of this SBIR grant will be to determine the technical feasibility of reducing costs and establish that the TotalTHM-NOW analyzer provides reliable THM concentration data in side-by side comparison studies with their established THM-RR system.