Abstract Title:

Emerging nitrogenous disinfection byproducts: Transformation of the antidiabetic drug metformin during chlorine disinfection of water.

Abstract Source:

Water Res. 2015 Aug 1 ;79:104-18. Epub 2015 Apr 27. PMID: 25973582

Abstract Author(s):

Dominic Armbruster, Oliver Happel, Marco Scheurer, Klaus Harms, Torsten C Schmidt, Heinz-Jürgen Brauch

Article Affiliation:

Dominic Armbruster


As an environmental contaminant of anthropogenic origin metformin is present in the high ng/L- up to the lowμg/L-range in most surface waters. Residues of metformin may lead to the formation of disinfection by-products during chlorine disinfection, when these waters are used for drinking water production. Investigations on the underlying chemical processes occurring during treatment of metformin with sodium hypochlorite in aqueous medium led to the discovery of two hitherto unknown transformation products. Both substances were isolated and characterized by HPLC-DAD, GC-MS, HPLC-ESI-TOF, (1)H-NMR and single-crystal X-ray structure determination. The immediate major chlorination product is a cyclic dehydro-1,2,4-triazole-derivate of intense yellow color (Y; C4H6ClN5). It is a solid chlorimine of limited stability. Rapid formation was observed between 10 °C and 30 °C, as well as between pH 3 and pH 11, in both ultrapure and tap water, even at trace quantities of reactants (ng/L-range for metformin, mg/L-range for free chlorine). While Y is degraded within a few hours to days in the presence of light, elevated temperature, organic solvents and matrix constituents within tap water, a secondary degradation product was discovered, which is stable and colorless (C; C4H6ClN3). This chloroorganic nitrile has a low photolysis rate in ambient day light, while being resistant to heat and not readily degraded in the presence of organic solvents or in the tap water matrix. In addition, the formation of ammonia, dimethylamine and N,N-dimethylguanidine was verified by cation exchange chromatography.

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