Use of routinely collected data on trihalomethane in drinking water for epidemiological purposes

  • Keegan T
  • Whitaker H
  • Nieuwenhuijsen M
 et al. 
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OBJECTIVES: To explore the use of routinely collected trihalomethane (THM) measurements for epidemiological studies. Recently there has been interest in the relation between byproducts of disinfection of public drinking water and certain adverse reproductive outcomes, including stillbirth, congenital malformations, and low birth weight. METHOD: Five years of THM readings (1992--6), collected for compliance with statutory limits, were analysed. One water company in the north west of England, divided into 288 water zones, provided 15,984 observations for statistical analysis. On average each zone was sampled 11.1 times a year. Five year, annual, monthly, and seasonal variation in THMs were examined as well as the variability within and between zones. RESULTS: Between 1992 and 1996 the total THM (TTHM) annual zone means were less than half the statutory concentration, at approximately 46 microg/l. Differences in annual water zone means were within 7%. Over the study period, the maximum water zone mean fell from 142.2 to 88.1 microg/l. Mean annual concentrations for individual THMs (microg/l) were 36.6, 8.0, and 2.8 for chloroform, bromodichloromethane (BDCM), and dibromochloromethane (DBCM) respectively. Bromoform data were not analysed, because a high proportion of the data were below the detection limit. The correlation between chloroform and TTHM was 0.98, between BDCM and TTHM 0.62, and between DBCM and TTHM -0.09. Between zone variation was larger than within zone variation for chloroform and BDCM, but not for DBCM. There was only little seasonal variation (

Author-supplied keywords

  • Birth outcomes
  • Chlorination byproducts
  • Exposure
  • Routine data
  • Trihalomethanes

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  • T. Keegan

  • H. Whitaker

  • M. J. Nieuwenhuijsen

  • M. B. Toledano

  • P. Elliott

  • J. Fawell

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