Tag Archives: exposure assessment

Nationwide drinking water sampling for exposure assessment, Denmark

Voutchkova DD, Hansen B, Ernstsen V, Kristiansen SM.Nationwide Drinking Water Sampling Campaign for Exposure Assessments in Denmark. International journal of environmental research and public health. 2018 Mar 7;15(3). pii: E467. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15030467.

Nationwide sampling campaign of treated drinking water of groundwater origin was designed and implemented in Denmark in 2013. The main purpose of the sampling was to obtain data on the spatial variation of iodine concentration and speciation in treated drinking water, which was supplied to the majority of the Danish population. This data was to be used in future exposure and epidemiologic studies. The water supply sector (83 companies, owning 144 waterworks throughout Denmark) was involved actively in the planning and implementation process, which reduced significantly the cost and duration of data collection. The dataset resulting from this collaboration covers not only iodine species (I, IO₃, TI), but also major elements and parameters (pH, electrical conductivity, DOC, TC, TN, F, Cl, NO₃, SO₄2-, Ca²⁺, Mg²⁺, K⁺, Na⁺) and a long list of trace elements (n = 66). The water samples represent 144 waterworks abstracting about 45% of the annual Danish groundwater abstraction for drinking water purposes, which supply about 2.5 million Danes (45% of all Danish residents). This technical note presents the design, implementation, and limitations of such a sampling design in detail in order (1) to facilitate the future use of this dataset, (2) to inform future replication studies, or (3) to provide an example for other researchers.

Hazard Ranking Method for Arsenic Exposure from Private Wells, UK

Crabbe H, Fletcher T, Close R, Watts MJ, Ander EL, Smedley PL, Verlander NQ, Gregory M, Middleton DRS, Polya DA, Studden M, Leonardi GS. Hazard Ranking Method for Populations Exposed to Arsenic in Private Water Supplies: Relation to Bedrock Geology. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017 Dec 1;14(12). pii: E1490. doi: 10.3390/ijerph14121490.

Approximately one million people in the UK are served by private water supplies (PWS) where main municipal water supply system connection is not practical or where PWS is the preferred option. Chronic exposure to contaminants in PWS may have adverse effects on health. South West England is an area with elevated arsenic concentrations in groundwater and over 9000 domestic dwellings here are supplied by PWS. There remains uncertainty as to the extent of the population exposed to arsenic (As), and the factors predicting such exposure. We describe a hazard assessment model based on simplified geology with the potential to predict exposure to As in PWS. Households with a recorded PWS in Cornwall were recruited to take part in a water sampling programme from 2011 to 2013. Bedrock geologies were aggregated and classified into nine Simplified Bedrock Geological Categories (SBGC), plus a cross-cutting “mineralized” area. PWS were sampled by random selection within SBGCs and some 508 households volunteered for the study. Transformations of the data were explored to estimate the distribution of As concentrations for PWS by SBGC. Using the distribution per SBGC, we predict the proportion of dwellings that would be affected by high concentrations and rank the geologies according to hazard. Within most SBGCs, As concentrations were found to have log-normal distributions. Across these areas, the proportion of dwellings predicted to have drinking water over the prescribed concentration value (PCV) for As ranged from 0% to 20%. From these results, a pilot predictive model was developed calculating the proportion of PWS above the PCV for As and hazard ranking supports local decision making and prioritization. With further development and testing, this can help local authorities predict the number of dwellings that might fail the PCV for As, based on bedrock geology. The model presented here for Cornwall could be applied in areas with similar geologies. Application of the method requires independent validation and further groundwater-derived PWS sampling on other geological formations.

Mulitmedia Modeling of Children’s Lead Exposure

Zartarian V, Xue J, Tornero-Velez R, Brown J. Children’s Lead Exposure: A Multimedia Modeling Analysis to Guide Public Health Decision-Making. Environmental health perspectives 2017 Sep 12;125(9):097009. doi: 10.1289/EHP1605.

BACKGROUND: Drinking water and other sources for lead are the subject of public health concerns around the Flint, Michigan, drinking water and East Chicago, Indiana, lead in soil crises. In 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC) recommended establishment of a “health-based, household action level” for lead in drinking water based on children’s exposure.

OBJECTIVES: The primary objective was to develop a coupled exposure-dose modeling approach that can be used to determine what drinking water lead concentrations keep children’s blood lead levels (BLLs) below specified values, considering exposures from water, soil, dust, food, and air. Related objectives were to evaluate the coupled model estimates using real-world blood lead data, to quantify relative contributions by the various media, and to identify key model inputs.

METHODS: A modeling approach using the EPA’s Stochastic Human Exposure and Dose Simulation (SHEDS)-Multimedia and Integrated Exposure Uptake and Biokinetic (IEUBK) models was developed using available data. This analysis for the U.S. population of young children probabilistically simulated multimedia exposures and estimated relative contributions of media to BLLs across all population percentiles for several age groups.

RESULTS: Modeled BLLs compared well with nationally representative BLLs (0-23% relative error). Analyses revealed relative importance of soil and dust ingestion exposure pathways and associated Pb intake rates; water ingestion was also a main pathway, especially for infants.

CONCLUSIONS: This methodology advances scientific understanding of the relationship between lead concentrations in drinking water and BLLs in children. It can guide national health-based benchmarks for lead and related community public health decisions.

Human Exposure to Perfluorochemicals

Jian JM, Guo Y, Zeng L, Liang-Ying L, Lu X, Wang F, Zeng EY. Global distribution of perfluorochemicals (PFCs) in potential human exposure source-A review. Environ Int. 2017 Aug 8;108:51-62. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2017.07.024.

Human exposure to perfluorochemicals (PFCs) has attracted mounting attention due to their potential harmful effects. Breathing, dietary intake, and drinking are believed to be the main routes for PFC entering into human body. Thus, we profiled PFC compositions and concentrations in indoor air and dust, food, and drinking water with detailed analysis of literature data published after 2010. Concentrations of PFCs in air and dust samples collected from home, office, and vehicle were outlined. The results showed that neutral PFCs (e.g., fluorotelomer alcohols (FTOHs) and perfluorooctane sulfonamide ethanols (FOSEs)) should be given attention in addition to PFOS and PFOA. We summarized PFC concentrations in various food items, including vegetables, dairy products, beverages, eggs, meat products, fish, and shellfish. We showed that humans are subject to the dietary PFC exposure mostly through fish and shellfish consumption. Concentrations of PFCs in different drinking water samples collected from various countries were analyzed. Well water and tap water contained relatively higher PFC concentrations than other types of drinking water. Furthermore, PFC contamination in drinking water was influenced by the techniques for drinking water treatment and bottle-originating pollution.

TOX in Urine as an Exposure Surrogate, China

Y Kimura S, Zheng W, N Hipp T, M Allen J, D Richardson S. Total organic halogen (TOX) in human urine: A halogen-specific method for human exposure studies. Journal of environmental sciences (China). 2017 Aug;58:285-295. doi: 10.1016/j.jes.2017.04.008.

Disinfection by-products (DBPs) are a complex mixture of compounds unintentionally formed as a result of disinfection processes used to treat drinking water. Effects of long-term exposure to DBPs are mostly unknown and were the subject of recent epidemiological studies. However, most bioanalytical methods focus on a select few DBPs. In this study, a new comprehensive bioanalytical method has been developed that can quantify mixtures of organic halogenated compounds, including DBPs, in human urine as total organic chlorine (TOCl), total organic bromine (TOBr), and total organic iodine (TOI). The optimized method consists of urine dilution, adsorption to activated carbon, pyrolysis of activated carbon, absorption of gases in an aqueous solution, and halide analysis with ion chromatography and inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. Spike recoveries for TOCl, TOBr, and TOI measurements ranged between 78% and 99%. Average TOCl, TOBr, and TOI concentrations in five urine samples from volunteers who consumed tap water were 1850, 82, and 21.0μg/L as X, respectively. Volunteers who consumed spring water (control) had TOCl, TOBr, and TOI average concentrations in urine of 1090, 88, and 10.3μg/L as X, respectively. TOCl and TOI in the urine samples from tap water consumers were higher than the control. However, TOBr was slightly lower in tap water urine samples compared to mineral water urine samples, indicating other sources of environmental exposure other than drinking water. A larger sample population that consumes tap water from different cities and mineral water is needed to determine TOCl, TOBr, and TOI exposure from drinking water.

DBP Compliance Data are Poor Proxies for Short-Term Exposure

Parvez S, Frost K, Sundararajan M. Evaluation of Drinking Water Disinfectant Byproducts Compliance Data as an Indirect Measure for Short-Term Exposure in Humans. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017 May 20;14(5). pii: E548. doi: 10.3390/ijerph14050548.

In the absence of shorter term disinfectant byproducts (DBPs) data on regulated Trihalomethanes (THMs) and Haloacetic acids (HAAs), epidemiologists and risk assessors have used long-term annual compliance (LRAA) or quarterly (QA) data to evaluate the association between DBP exposure and adverse birth outcomes, which resulted in inconclusive findings. Therefore, we evaluated the reliability of using long-term LRAA and QA data as an indirect measure for short-term exposure. Short-term residential tap water samples were collected in peak DBP months (May-August) in a community water system with five separate treatment stations and were sourced from surface or groundwater. Samples were analyzed for THMs and HAAs per the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) standard methods (524.2 and 552.2). The measured levels of total THMs and HAAs were compared temporally and spatially with LRAA and QA data, which showed significant differences (p < 0.05). Most samples from surface water stations showed higher levels than LRAA or QA. Significant numbers of samples in surface water stations exceeded regulatory permissible limits: 27% had excessive THMs and 35% had excessive HAAs. Trichloromethane, trichloroacetic acid, and dichloroacetic acid were the major drivers of variability. This study suggests that LRAA and QA data are not good proxies of short-term exposure. Further investigation is needed to determine if other drinking water systems show consistent findings for improved regulation.

Evaluating bias in lead sampling, Flint, Michigan

Sampling for lead in drinking is easier said than done. There are scientific and technical issues that complicate sampling and interpretation of testing results. It is important to understand that the purpose of sampling for lead under the USEPA lead rule is not exposure assessment. The primary goal is to confirm whether or not the water system is practicing optimal corrosion control. Seems to me that we are at a critical juncture in regulating lead in drinking water and some innovative thinking is needed to develop and move forward with a regulatory approach that will be effective in reducing lead exposure.

Goovaerts P. Monitoring the aftermath of Flint drinking water contamination crisis: Another case of sampling bias? Sci Total Environ. 2017 Mar 2. pii: S0048-9697(17)30440-0. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.02.183.

The delay in reporting high levels of lead in Flint drinking water, following the city’s switch to the Flint River as its water supply, was partially caused by the biased selection of sampling sites away from the lead pipe network. Since Flint returned to its pre-crisis source of drinking water, the State has been monitoring water lead levels (WLL) at selected “sentinel” sites. In a first phase that lasted two months, 739 residences were sampled, most of them bi-weekly, to determine the general health of the distribution system and to track temporal changes in lead levels. During the same period, water samples were also collected through a voluntary program whereby concerned citizens received free testing kits and conducted sampling on their own. State officials relied on the former data to demonstrate the steady improvement in water quality. A recent analysis of data collected by voluntary sampling revealed, however, an opposite trend with lead levels increasing over time. This paper looks at potential sampling bias to explain such differences. Although houses with higher WLL were more likely to be sampled repeatedly, voluntary sampling turned out to reproduce fairly well the main characteristics (i.e. presence of lead service lines (LSL), construction year) of Flint housing stock. State-controlled sampling was less representative; e.g., sentinel sites with LSL were mostly built between 1935 and 1950 in lower poverty areas, which might hamper our ability to disentangle the effects of LSL and premise plumbing (lead fixtures and pipes present within old houses) on WLL. Also, there was no sentinel site with LSL in two of the most impoverished wards, including where the percentage of children with elevated blood lead levels tripled following the switch in water supply. Correcting for sampling bias narrowed the gap between sampling programs, yet overall temporal trends are still opposite.