Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) is a food additive that is used as a preservative. It is usually taken in such low levels that it is of no immediate risk to human health, however in large doses there is evidence of it being a carcinogen. Being a food additive, BHA makes its way into the wastewater system and undergoes wastewater treatment. A common form of disinfection is reaction with chlorine gas which when added to water forms hypochlorous acid (HOCl) and hypochlorite (OCl-). HOCl and/or OCl- are the major reactive species with the BHA, working as an oxidizer.
In my research, we have been looking at different concentrations of HOCl/OCl- reacting with low concentrations of BHA. Samples are purified with solid phase extractions to separate the reaction products from HOCl/OCl- and concentrate the products The extracted products are analyzed with ¹H-NMR This can give us information if new products are formed or not, as well as information about the structure of possible new compounds.
To further analyze the compound better, solvent suppression techniques including presaturation, as well as WET solvent suppression have been practiced to better view the compound in the ¹H-NMR graphs. Another technique starting to be used is direct injection probe with the mass spectrometer. By utilizing this, it will be easier to determine the structure of the new compound by looking at molecular weight of the sample.