Contents and leaching of trihalomethane precursors in soils

Shiyu Li*, Xiuhong Yang, Rongliang Qiu, Peng Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Aquatic humic substances can react with chlorine during water treatment to form trihalomethanes (THMs). Soils are important contributors to THM precursors in raw waters. An investigation into the trihalomethane formation potentials (THMFPs) of soils in South China's Guangdong Province was conducted. The results show that the bulk THMFPs (b-THMFP) of aqueous soil extracts range from 0.7 to 36.8 μg g-1 with a median value of 10.6 μg g-1, and the THMFPs of dissolved organic matter (d-THMFP) in the 0.45 μm filtered aqueous soil extracts range from 0.5 to 21.2 μg g-1 with a median value of 3.9 μg g-1 of soil. Approximately 86% of the 34 soil samples had b-THMFP values ≤20 μg g-1 and 79% had d-THMFP values ≤10 μg g-1. The finding that majority of d-THMFP/b-THMFP ratios are less than 0.5 indicates that suspended organic matter in aqueous extract has greater contribution to the bulk THMFP. The results of soil column study indicate that THMFPs of effluents from samples 1, 15 and 21 were higher than 100 or 50 μg L-1 at various leaching acidities. THMFPs concentrations in leachates increase with increases in the amounts of humic substances in soils. THM presursors appear to more easily flow out with soil water flow under lower acidic leaching conditions. In most cases, THMFPs concentrations in leachates showed decline with the increases of cumulative leaching volumes of feed solutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-52
Number of pages18
JournalWater, Air, and Soil Pollution
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - May 2003
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC: 49771071), Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province (970124), and University Teachers Research Funding Scheme of Ministry of Education of China. The authors would like to acknowledge Xiaoqing He, Yun Yang and Huina Lin for their assistance.


  • Leaching
  • Soil
  • Trihalomethane
  • Trihalomethane formation potential

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution


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