Chlorate, bromate, and perchlorate occurrences within drinking water in the United States

Through a comprehensive review of the literature it has been possible to not only address the research objectives that have been detailed in this thesis, allowing for not only the identification of the process by which chlorate, bromate, and perchlorate occur, but for an understanding of the reasons behind the occurrences of these contaminants within drinking water in the United States. Information has been gathered that is not only relevant to the research question posed in this thesis, but a background knowledge of the information necessary in order to be able to fully investigate the research question has been gained. Through the gathering of this research, and through a comprehensive review of the material at hand, it is possible to not only understand the research question, but to see that there is much more work that needs to be done in regards to the matter.

The formation of these three contaminants has been investigated and understood, as has the ways in which sodium hypochlorite breaks down, and an understanding of how each of these three contaminants interacts with sodium hypochlorite has been reached. Additionally, analysis and examination of the typical observations of these formations, both on-site and by sodium hypochlorite has been undertaken as a necessary component in understanding how these compounds form. A more in depth look into the formation of these contaminants was taken, and information has been obtained regarding the natural occurrence of these contaminants within the environment, and different theories regarding the formation of these contaminants within the environment have been reviewed. Detailed information regarding the specific formations of each of these three contaminants has been reviewed and included. The differences between the manufacturing of sodium hypochlorite and the production of sodium hypochlorite on-site have been understood, and the differences between the two processes have been clearly delineated.

The health effects of chlorate, bromate, and perchlorate have been identified, and the adverse effects of these contaminants have been confirmed through multiple studies by different governmental agencies. The study of the health effects of these contaminants has been confirmed through the study of the effects of these contaminants on laboratory rats. The most common issues that may result from the ingestion of these contaminants include thyroidal issues in humans of all ages, and developmental issues in children and young adults, possible reproductive issues, and cancer. In spite of these adverse effects, the studies did provide information on how perchlorate could be used in a manner that was beneficial in certain cases, instead of harmful. Bromate was determined to be a carcinogen, and chlorate’s health concerns were addressed as well. The methodology for each of these causes was looked at, though not in extensive detail; however more information on the specific testing and studies that were done in order to determine these health effects is included in the studies done by the World Health Organization referenced herein, which may be further referred to, should the need arise.

The treatment options for these contaminants were discussed, looking at what was currently being done in order to decrease the levels present within the water supply, determining various methods that may be used for decontamination of the water supply, and looking at potential federal regulatory rulings that may come into effect in order to properly regulate these contaminants. Information was provided regarding the voluntary regulatory levels that were put in place in both governmental agencies and at the state level as a result of research into the effects of these contaminants. It is important to note that not all states have created advisory or regulatory levels for these contaminants, and some of the states that have done so have only set those levels at that equivalent to an industrial level contamination of those compounds. Alternative methods of water treatment were reviewed in order to look at not only what may be used now, but also to address the possible options for water decontamination in the future, following the approval of certain methodologies not currently approved for water treatment within the United States at this time. Some of these water treatment methodologies may end up working to negate the need for sodium hypochlorite, or may be used in conjunction with sodium hypochlorite treatment in order to work to further decrease the amount of contaminants present within the water.

The chemistry and mechanics behind the formation of these compounds, as well as typical observations, and their chemical equations have allowed this researcher to gain valuable insights that will be used to effectively respond to the research question. Insight was gained regarding the different methods of measurement that could be used in both a laboratory setting and when on site, providing multiple methods that may be used in order to confirm the presence of contaminants within a given water supply. Information was reviewed concerning the proper usage for the mass spectrometer in order to determine the presence of these contaminants within a given sample, and the methods were discussed for sample preparation.

This literature review has provided a detailed discussion into these significant areas, including the use of technical scientific data designed to strengthen the findings and conclusions drawn as a result of this literature review. There are many different areas of research that still may be undertaken regarding sodium hypochlorite and its subsequent formulated contaminants, perchlorate, bromate, and chlorate, including additional information regarding the determination between naturally occurring and man-made occurrences of these contaminants, additional alternative water treatment options, information on the federal regulatory status at present, information on other areas of contamination, and alternative places that these contaminants may be found, such as whether or not they are present within marine algae. In truth, it is possible to see that investigation into sodium hypochlorite, its potential contaminants, and the adverse effects of these contaminants is truly just beginning, leaving a wide range of options still to be studied in regards to these compounds.

As with any in depth research study, there are many different ways that the research may be taken, many different avenues that are not explored, or not fully explored, and with each additional piece of research, new avenues of investigation are opened, making all quests for knowledge, such as the one present within this particular thesis, never ending. Through the successful application of this literature review and the associated thesis, it is hoped that a stepping stone is provided for the next generation of researchers, allowing them to continue to search for answers regarding these particular contaminants, hopefully resolving the problem in the future, serving to further the efforts and endeavors of mankind in keeping human life on this planet at both intelligent and sustainable levels. It is possible that through study of sodium hypochlorite and its contaminants, additional methods may be found in order to work to treat the water in order to ensure its safety which work to completely negate the need for the use of sodium hypochlorite, though at this time it is still the preferred water treatment method.