JOURNAL ARTICLE
RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
RESEARCH SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, NON-P.H.S.
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Formation of free cyanide and cyanogen chloride from chloramination of publicly owned treatment works secondary effluent: laboratory study with model compounds.

The potential generation of cyanide species in wastewater upon chlorination in the presence of residual ammonia (resulting in chloramine formation) was investigated in experiments with synthetic solutions and publicly owned treatment works (POTW) secondary effluent. This study demonstrated that low concentrations (approximately 5 to 25 microg/L as cyanide) of cyanogen chloride (CNCI), a highly toxic cyanide species not measured in total or free cyanide analyses, could be detected as a result of chloramination reactions in POTW secondary effluent. The potential for chloramination of nitrogen-bearing organic compounds to yield CNCl and/or free cyanide was demonstrated in experiments with synthetic solutions spiked with selected precursor organics: L-serine, benzene, catechin, and humic acid. The amino acid L-serine yielded the largest concentrations of CNCI upon chloramination. Additionally, detectable cyanide (approximately 10 microg/L) was observed in solutions of L-serine and in POTW secondary effluent that was chloraminated followed by dechlorination to prevent destruction of any free cyanide produced. Thus, chlorination of POTW secondary effluent containing residual ammonia can lead to chloramination of organic compounds and the resulting production of CNCl and free cyanide.

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