The Environmental Chemical Sciences (ECS) program of the Division of Chemistry will support the international collaboration in chemistry research program of Prof. Stephen Duirk of the University of Akron, Prof. Michael Plewa of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Dr. Susan Richardson of USEPA, and Dr. Thomas Ternes of the Federal Institute of Hydrology in Koblenz, Germany. The collaborative team of investigators and their students will employ advanced measurement methods to elucidate the formation mechanisms of highly toxic iodo-disinfentant by products (iodo-DBPs) from the reaction of drinking water disinfectants with iodinated X-ray contrast media (ICM). ICM have never been investigated as precursors to DBPs in drinking water treatment, despite the fact that they are widely used and are found at high levels in surface waters. The US researchers will identify low molecular weight iodo-DBPs formed during the reaction of chlorinated oxidants with ICM and their TPs, and German researchers will identify high molecular weight reaction products. The toxicity (mammalian cell genotoxicity and cytotoxicity) of the reaction product mixtures and of individual iodo-DBPs identified will also be measured to determine which ICM, and their microbial transformation products (TPs), and reaction conditions give rise to toxic by-products.

As clean water sources are contaminated with anthropogenic chemicals from wastewater inputs, it is important to understand how these contaminants can be chemically transformed during drinking water treatment resulting in the formation of toxic transformation products. Understanding contaminant transformation pathways will ultimately result in minimizing or eliminating the formation of highly toxic DBPs in drinking water, which could potentially impact the millions of people worldwide who consume disinfected drinking water. The study will provide an excellent educational opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students to carry out an environmental chemical science project of great societal importance in international collaborative settings.

This international collaborative research project is supported jointly by NSF and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) (DFG).

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Chemistry (CHE)
Application #
Program Officer
Zeev Rosenzweig
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
United States
Zip Code