Recently, there has been increased interest in microcystin-LR and other fresh water cyanotoxins because of their toxicity and occurrence throughout the world. Although previous studies have shown that free chlorine can degrade microcystin-LR, there are insufficient data to develop the contact times and free chlorine doses that achieve targeted levels of microcystin-LR degradation. Furthermore, there are insufficient microcystin-LR degradation data that would allow for the development of feasible microcystin-LR criteria or standards. To systematically develop this critical information, a total of 34 batch chlorination experiments were performed at different pH values, chlorine doses, and toxin concentrations. For all conditions, Ct (C = chlorine concentration, t = contact time) values required for degradation of microcystin-LR were calculated and safety factors were estimated. Twenty seven of the 34 experiments were conducted with reagent-grade water and seven of the 34 experiments were conducted with natural waters. At all pH values tested, the degradation of microcystin-LR increased with increasing Ct. For Ct values usually observed in drinking water treatment, a 1-log degradation of microcystin-LR in reagent-grade water was observed only at pH 6.0. The results also suggest that the Ct values obtained from reagent-grade water experiments are appropriate for application to natural waters that have been subjected to conventional coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, and filtration prior to chlorine addition.

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