Disinfection byproduct exposure assessment

Dr Martha Sinclair
Prof Steve Hrudey (University of Alberta)
Dr Ken Froese (University of Alberta)
Mr Eric Braekveldt (University of Alberta)
Mr David Graham (AWQC)
Ms Karen Simpson (AWQC)

Funded by: Cooperative Research Centre for Water Quality and Treatment

Since the discovery in the 1970s that chlorine reacts with natural organic matter in water to form disinfection byproducts (DBPs), a number of epidemiological studies have suggested possible links between adverse health outcomes and exposure to DBPs. These concerns have focused primarily on possible cancer risks, but more recently attention has turned to adverse reproductive outcomes. However all of the studies conducted to date have had significant short-comings in the assessment of DBP exposures, and there is a pressing need to develop better methods of DBP exposure assessment to improve the quality of epidemiological studies.

This pilot project was carried out in Adelaide in collaboration with the University of Alberta, and was designed to establish the utility of urinary TCAA measurement as a biomarker of TCAA exposure from drinking water. 10 volunteers from the AWQC staff participated over a 5 week period. Participants received a brief report of the overall outcomes and their own results.

The analysis of results suggests that TCAA will be a useful marker for exposure measurement. A further volunteer study of similar design has been undertaken at the University of Alberta.

Froese K L, Sinclair M and Hrudey S E. Trichloroacetic Acid as a Biomarker of Exposure to Disinfection By-Products in Drinking Water: A Human Exposure Trial in Adelaide, Australia. Environ Health Perspect 2002;110 (7):679-87.