N-nitrosamine rejection by reverse osmosis membranes: A full-scale study

Takahiro Fujioka, Stuart J. Khan, James A. McDonald, Annalie Roux, Yvan Poussade, Jörg E. Drewes, Long D. Nghiem

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55 Scopus citations


This study aims to provide longitudinal and spatial insights to the rejection of N-nitrosamines by reverse osmosis (RO) membranes during sampling campaigns at three full-scale water recycling plants. Samples were collected at all individual filtration stages as well as at a cool and a warm weather period to elucidate the impact of recovery and feed temperature on the rejection of N-nitrosamines. N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) was detected in all RO feed samples varying between 7 and 32ng/L. Concentrations of most other N-nitrosamines in the feed solutions were determined to be lower than their detection limits (3-5ng/L) but higher concentrations were detected in the feed after each filtration stage. As a notable exception, in one plant, N-nitrosomorpholine (NMOR) was observed at high concentrations in RO feed (177-475ng/L) and permeate (34-76ng/L). Overall rejection of NDMA among the three RO systems varied widely from 4 to 47%. Data presented here suggest that the feed temperature can influence rejection of NDMA. A considerable variation in NDMA rejection across the three RO stages (14-78%) was also observed. Overall NMOR rejections were consistently high ranging from 81 to 84%. On the other hand, overall rejection of N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA) varied from negligible to 53%, which was considerably lower than values reported in previous laboratory-scale studies. A comparison between results reported here and the literature indicates that there can be some discrepancy in N-nitrosamine rejection data between laboratory- and full-scale studies probably due to differences in water recoveries and operating conditions (e.g. temperature, membrane fouling, and hydraulic conditions).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6141-6148
Number of pages8
JournalWater Research
Issue number16
StatePublished - 15 Oct 2013


  • Full-scale operation
  • N-nitrosamines
  • NDMA
  • Reverse osmosis (RO) membranes
  • Water reuse


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