Algal toxicity of the alternative disinfectants performic acid (PFA), peracetic acid (PAA), chlorine dioxide (ClO2) and their by-products hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and chlorite (ClO2-)

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Environmental effect evaluation of disinfection of combined sewer overflow events with alternative chemical disinfectants requires that the environmental toxicity of the disinfectants and the main by-products of their use are known. Many disinfectants degrade quickly in water which should be included in the evaluation of both their toxicity as determined in standardized tests and their possible negative effect in the water environment. Here we evaluated according to the standardized ISO 8692 test the toxicity towards the green microalgae, Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata, of three disinfectants: performic acid (PFA), peracetic acid (PAA) and chlorine dioxide (ClO2) as well as two by-products of their use: hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and chlorite. All of the five chemicals investigated showed clear toxicity to the algae with well-defined dose response curves. The EC50 values ranged from 0.16 to 2.9 mg/L based on nominal concentrations leading to the labeling of the chemicals as either toxic or very toxic. The five investigated chemicals decreased in toxicity in the order chlorine dioxide, performic acid, peracetic acid, chlorite and hydrogen peroxide. The stability of the chemicals increased in the same order as the toxicity decrease. This indicates that even though ClO2 has the highest environmental hazard potential, it may still be suitable as an alternative disinfectant due to its rapid degradation in water.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)570-574
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Peracetic acid
  • Performic acid
  • Chlorine dioxide
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Chlorite
  • Algal toxicity
  • Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata

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