N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) and its precursors in water and wastewater: A review on formation and removal

Massimiliano Sgroi, Federico G.A. Vagliasindi, Shane A. Snyder, Paolo Roccaro

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

146 Scopus citations


This review summarizes major findings over the last decade related to N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) in water and wastewater. In particular, the review is focused on the removal of NDMA and of its precursors by conventional and advanced water and wastewater treatment processes. New information regarding formation mechanisms and precursors are discussed as well. NDMA precursors are generally of anthropogenic origin and their main source in water have been recognized to be wastewater discharges. Chloramination is the most common process that results in formation of NDMA during water and wastewater treatment. However, ozonation of wastewater or highly contaminated surface water can also generate significant levels of NDMA. Thus, NDMA formation control and remediation has become of increasing interest, particularly during treatment of wastewater-impacted water and during potable reuse application. NDMA formation has also been associated with the use of quaternary amine-based coagulants and anion exchange resins. UV photolysis with UV fluence far higher than typical disinfection doses is generally considered the most efficient technology for NDMA mitigation. However, recent studies on the optimization of biological processes offer a potentially lower-energy solution. Options for NDMA control include attenuation of precursor materials through physical removal, biological treatment, and/or deactivation by application of oxidants. Nevertheless, NDMA precursor identification and removal can be challenging and additional research and optimization is needed. As municipal wastewater becomes increasingly used as a source water for drinking, NDMA formation and mitigation strategies will become increasingly more important. The following review provides a summary of the most recent information available.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)685-703
Number of pages19
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • Disinfection by-products
  • Drinking water
  • Emerging contaminants
  • Nitrosamines
  • Potable reuse
  • Water treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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