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Open AccessArticle

Characterization of Disinfection By-Products Levels at an Emergency Surface Water Treatment Plant in a Refugee Settlement in Northern Uganda

1
Public Health Department, Médecins Sans Frontières, Naritaweg 10, 1043 BX Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2
Dahdaleh Institute of Global Health Research, Victor P. Dahdaleh Building, York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, ON M3J 1P3, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(4), 647; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11040647
Received: 28 February 2019 / Revised: 23 March 2019 / Accepted: 25 March 2019 / Published: 28 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene in Humanitarian Contexts)
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PDF [7629 KB, uploaded 28 March 2019]
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Abstract

The reliance on chlorination in humanitarian operations has raised concerns among practitioners about possible health risks associated with disinfection by-products; however, to date, there has not been an evaluation of disinfection by-product (DBP) levels in an emergency water supply intervention. This study aimed to investigate DBP levels at a surface-water treatment plant serving a refugee settlement in northern Uganda using the colorimetric Hach THM Plus Method. The plant had two treatment processes: (1) Simultaneous clarification–chlorination (“rapid treatment”); and (2) pre-clarification and chlorination in separate tanks (“standard treatment”). For both standard (n = 17) and rapid (n = 3) treatment processes, DBP levels in unique parcels of water were tested at 30 min post-chlorination and after 24 h of storage (to simulate what refugees actually consume). DBP levels after 24 h did not exceed the World Health Organization (WHO) guideline limit of 300 ppb equivalent chloroform, either for standard treatment (mean: 85.1 ppb; 95% confidence interval (C.I.): 71.0–99.1 ppb; maximum: 133.7 ppb) or for rapid treatment (mean: 218.0 ppb; 95% C.I.: 151.2–284.8; maximum: 249.0 ppb). Observed DBPs levels do not appear to be problematic with respect to the general population, but may pose sub-chronic exposure risks to specifically vulnerable populations that warrant further investigation. View Full-Text
Keywords: chlorine; chlorination; disinfection by-products; humanitarian; refugee camp; trihalomethanes; water treatment; water quality chlorine; chlorination; disinfection by-products; humanitarian; refugee camp; trihalomethanes; water treatment; water quality
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Ali, S.I.; Arnold, M.; Liesner, F.; Fesselet, J.-F. Characterization of Disinfection By-Products Levels at an Emergency Surface Water Treatment Plant in a Refugee Settlement in Northern Uganda. Water 2019, 11, 647.

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