It is essential for drinking water to undergo some disinfection process to inactivate pathogenic microbes and prevent waterborne diseases. Common disinfection processes include chlorination, chloramination, ozonation, and UV. While these processes function effectively to remove microbial risks, these disinfecting agents can also react with the natural organic matter that might be present in the water, resulting in the creation of disinfection by-products (DBPs).
There are numerous types of DBPs that can be formed, depending on the composition of the organic matter in the water and the treatment process used, and significant scientific research has been focused on identifying and understanding DBPs that are toxicologically significant. Halobenzoquinones (HBQs) are one of five DBP classes that have been predicted to have toxicological importance. In a recent study published by Du, Li, and co-workers, the cytotoxicity of four HBQ compounds was evaluated. The research team identified that HBQs are, in fact, cytotoxic to T24 bladder cancer cells, with cytotoxicity impacted by oxidative stress. The comprehensive study produced significant results for identifying the toxicological significance of HBQ compounds as well as beginning to formulate the cellular mechanism of that toxicity.