The presence of organic compounds in water sources is one of the concerns in water treatment. They are potential precursors of disinfection byproducts (DBPs) and thus induce health problems in humans. Among the emerging DBPs, carcinogenic compound N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) has been receiving attention during the last decade. This study examined the characteristics of organic components in various water sources and investigated their relationships with NDMA formation. Experiments were carried out on selected water samples from both natural water and wastewater. Results showed similar NDMA formation kinetics for both water sources. However, more contribution of NDMA precursors was found to be from the wastewater due to its higher organic nitrogen content. NDMA formation potential (NDMAFP) of secondary effluent ranged from 264 to 530 ng/L. A correlation study between organic compound characteristics and NDMAFP indicated that the majority of NDMA precursors came from dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) compound with small molecular weight (smaller than 500 Da), with correlation R2 = 0.898. Although secondary treatment removed more than 90% of NDMA precursors, the remaining precursors in secondary effluent would still pose a challenge for water quality.

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