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Dispersive liquid-liquid micro-extraction coupled with gas chromatography for the detection of trihalomethanes in different water sources in the Western Cape, South Africa
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Trihalomethanes (THMs) are a group of four compounds that are formed, along with other disinfected by-products. This happens when chloride or other disinfectants are used to control microbial contamination in drinking water, which then reacts with natural organic or inorganic substances in water. Trihalomethanes are better known by their common names such as chloroform, bromodichloromethane, chlorodibromomethane and bromoform. These four compounds are known to be classified as cancer group B carcinogens (shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals). Trihalomethane levels tend to increase with pH, temperature, time and the level of “precursors" present. Precursors are known to be organic substances which react with chloride to form THMs. One significant way of reducing the amount of THMs in water is to eliminate or reduce chlorination before filtrations and reduce precursors. There are guideline limits for THMs in the SANS 241:2015 document, but they are not continuously monitored and their levels in natural water are not known. The aim of this study is to develop a rapid, fast and reliable liquid-liquid microextraction technique, to determine the presence of THMs in natural water sources. This study particularly focuses on different water sources e.g. river, underground, borehole and chlorinated water. Chlorinated water is the water that has been presumably treated for bacteria and fungus growth. The results that were obtained for chlorinated water are as follow, 10.120 μg/L − 11.654 μg/L for chloroform, 2.214 μg/L - 2.666 μg/L for bromodichloromethane, 0.819 μg/L − 0.895 μg/L chlorodibromomethane and 0.103 μg/L - 0.135 μg/L for bromoform from validation data. All these THMs concentrations have been found to be below the SANS 241:2015 limits. Natural water shows a very high affinity for chloroform. This is what is expected under normal conditions as chloroform is the most abundant THM of all THMs present in natural water. The liquid-liquid microextraction technique that was optimized and used for the determination of THMs in this study is a rapid, simple and inexpensive technique that provides low limits of detection (LOD) e.g. 0.1999 μg/L chlorodibromomethane and 0.2056 μg/L bromoform and wide dynamic range (LOQ) of 0.6664 μg/L chlorodibromomethane and 0.6854 μg/L bromoform for the determination of THMs.