Role of Carbonyl Compounds for -Nitrosamine Formation during Nitrosation: Kinetics and Mechanisms

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-Nitrosamines are potential human carcinogens frequently detected in natural and engineered aquatic systems. This study sheds light on the role of carbonyl compounds in the formation of -nitrosamines by nitrosation of five secondary amines via different pathways. The results showed that compared to a control system, the presence of formaldehyde enhances the formation of -nitrosamines by a factor of 5-152 at pH 7, depending on the structure of the secondary amines. Acetaldehyde showed a slight enhancement effect on -nitrosamine formation, while acetone and benzaldehyde did not promote nitrosation reactions. For neutral and basic conditions, the iminium ion was the dominant intermediate for -nitrosamine formation, while carbinolamine became the major contributor under acidic conditions. Negative free energy changes (<-19 kcal mol) and relatively low activation energies (<18 kcal mol) of the reactions of secondary amines with NO, iminium ions with nitrite and carbinolamines with NO from quantum chemical computations further support the proposed reaction pathways. This highlights the roles of the iminium ion and carbinolamine in the formation of -nitrosamines during nitrosation in the presence of carbonyl compounds, especially in the context of industrial wastewater.

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Environmental science & technology