In vitro toxicity and genotoxicity assessment of disinfection by-products, organic N-chloramines

S Laingam, Suzanne Froscio, R Bull, Andrew Humpage

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    26 Citations (Scopus)


    Disinfection by-products (DBPs) are of concern to both water industries and health authorities. Although several classes of DBPs have been studied, and there are regulated safe levels in disinfected water for some, a large portion of DBPs are not characterized, and need further investigation. Organic N-chloramines are a group of DBPs, which can be formed during common disinfection processes such as chlorination and chloramination, but little is known in terms of their toxicological significance if consumed in drinking water. Only a few in vitro studies using bacterial assays have reported some genotoxic potential of organic N-chloramines, largely in the context of inflammatory processes in the body rather than exposure through drinking water. In this study, we investigated 16 organic N-chloramines produced by chlorination of model amino acids and amines. It was found that within the drinking water-relevant micromolar concentration range, four compounds were both cytotoxic and genotoxic to mammalian cells. A small reduction of cellular GSH was also observed in the treatment with these four compounds, but not of a magnitude to account for the cytotoxicity and genotoxicity. The results presented in this study demonstrate that some organic N-chloramines, at low concentrations that might be present in disinfected water, can be harmful to mammalian cells.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)83-93
    Number of pages11
    JournalEnvironmental and Molecular Mutagenesis
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


    • Cytotoxicity
    • Flow cytometry
    • Micronucleus assay
    • Oxidative stress
    • WIL2-NS


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