Environnement, Risques & Santé


French population exposure to chloroform in the drinking water network: An assessment Volume 6, issue 4, Juillet-Août 2007


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Institut de veille sanitaire (InVS), Département santé environnement, 12, rue du Val d’Osne, 94415 Saint-Maurice cedex, Université René Descartes, Faculté de pharmacie, 12, rue de l’École de Médecine, 75006 Paris

The use of chlorine to disinfect water can produce byproducts, principally chloroform, that are carcinogenic as well as harmful to reproduction in humans. This study assesses the exposure of two French populations – adults and pregnant women – to chloroform from the drinking water network. Exposure was assessed for adults and pregnant women consuming water from the 95 treatment plants selected for the study. The three possible routes of exposure (oral, respiratory, dermal) were considered during the following exposure situations: drinking, showering, and bathing. Data on the morphological, physiological and behavioural characteristics of the populations come from French or US surveys. Chloroform concentrations in water come from the SISE-eaux database, and chloroform concentrations in the air were estimated from experimental studies. Doses via the oral route were estimated by considering all volumes of water ingested (cold water, water heated for drinking or for cooking food) and taking into account the effect of the water temperature on the chloroform concentrations. Calculation of dermal exposure estimated an internal dose with Fick’s First Law and then converted it into a virtual inhaled concentration. This concentration was then added to the concentration absorbed by the respiratory route to construct a daily exposure concentration integrating the dermal and respiratory routes. Depending on exposure patterns, adult subjects ingest from 6.6.10 -2 µg/kg/d to 6.8.10 -1 µg/kg/d of chloroform daily and pregnant women from 1.2.10 -1 µg/kg/d to 2.9 µg/kg/d. The daily exposure concentration ranges from 1.2 µg/m 3 to 13.3 µg/m 3 for adults and from 1.2 µg/m 3 to 45.6 µg/m 3 for pregnant women. The results also show that dermal exposure must not be neglected. The principal uncertainties of this method concern the estimation of chloroform concentrations in air and of dermal exposure.