High-Resolution Mass Spectrometry Identification of Novel Surfactant-Derived Sulfur-Containing Disinfection Byproducts from Gas Extraction Wastewater. Academic Article uri icon


  • Introduction of oil and gas extraction wastewaters (OGWs) to surface water leads to elevated halide levels from geogenic bromide and iodide, as well as enhanced formation of brominated and iodinated disinfection byproducts (DBPs) when treated. OGWs contain high levels of chemical additives used to optimize extraction activities, such as surfactants, which have the potential to serve as organic DBP precursors in OGW-impacted water sources. We report the first identification of olefin sulfonate surfactant-derived DBPs from laboratory-disinfected gas extraction wastewater. Over 300 sulfur-containing DBPs, with 43 unique molecular formulas, were found by high-resolution mass spectrometry, following bench-scale chlor(am)ination. DBPs consisted of mostly brominated species, including bromohydrin sulfonates, dihalo-bromosulfonates, and bromosultone sulfonates, with chlorinated/iodinated analogues formed to a lesser extent. Disinfection of a commercial C12-olefin sulfonate surfactant mixture revealed dodecene sulfonate as a likely precursor for most detected DBPs; disulfur-containing DBPs, like bromosultone sulfonate and bromohydrin disulfonate, originated from olefin disulfonate species, present as side-products of olefin sulfonate production. Disinfection of wastewaters increased mammalian cytotoxicity several orders of magnitude, with chloraminated water being more toxic. This finding is important to OGW-impacted source waters because drinking water plants with high-bromide source waters may switch to chloramination to meet DBP regulations.

published proceedings

  • Environ Sci Technol

altmetric score

  • 2.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Liberatore, H. K., Westerman, D. C., Allen, J. M., Plewa, M. J., Wagner, E. D., McKenna, A. M., ... Richardson, S. D.

citation count

  • 12

complete list of authors

  • Liberatore, Hannah K||Westerman, Danielle C||Allen, Joshua M||Plewa, Michael J||Wagner, Elizabeth D||McKenna, Amy M||Weisbrod, Chad R||McCord, James P||Liberatore, Richard J||Burnett, David B||Cizmas, Leslie H||Richardson, Susan D

publication date

  • August 2020