Publication Details

Fujioka, T., Khan, S. J., Poussade, Y., Drewes, J. E. & Nghiem, L. D. (2012). N-nitrosamine removal by reverse osmosis for indirect potable water reuse – A critical review based on observations from laboratory, pilot and full-scale studies. Separation and Purification Technology, 98 503-515.


N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) and several other N-nitrosamines have been identified as probable human carcinogens. Here, we review key aspects related to the occurrence and removal of N-nitrosamines by reverse osmosis (RO) membranes in the context of indirect potable water reuse. A comprehensive analysis of the existing data reveals significant variations in the rejection of NDMA by RO membranes reported in the literature, ranging from negligible up to 86%. This review article provides some insight into the reasons for such variations by examining the available data on the effects of operating conditions on NDMA rejection. Amongst several operating parameters investigated so far in the literature, feed temperature, membrane permeate flux, feed solution pH and ionic strength were found to have considerable impact on NDMA rejection by RO membranes. In particular, it has been recently shown that seasonal changes in feed temperature (e.g. from 20 to 30 C) can result in a significant decrease in NDMA rejection (from 49% to 25%). However, the combined effects of all operating parameters identified in the literature to date can only account for some of the variations in NDMA rejection that have been observed in full-scale RO plants. The impacts of membrane fouling and particularly chemical cleaning on the rejection of N-nitrosamines have not been fully investigated. Finally, this review article presents a roadmap for further research required to optimise the rejection of NDMA and other N-nitrosamines by RO membranes.

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