Disinfection with chlorine and chloramine leads to the formation of many disinfection by-products including N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). Because NDMA is a probable human carcinogen, public health officials are concerned with its occurrence in drinking water. The goal of this study was to estimate NDMA concentrations from exogenous (i.e., drinking water and food) and endogenous (i.e., formed in the human body) sources, calculate average daily doses for ingestion route exposures and estimate the proportional oral intake (POI) of NDMA attributable to the consumption of drinking water relative to other ingestion sources of NDMA. The POI is predicted to be 0.02% relative to exogenous and endogenous NDMA sources combined. When only exogenous sources are considered, the POI was predicted to be 2.7%. The exclusion of endogenously formed NDMA causes the POI to increase dramatically, reflecting its importance as a potentially major source of exposure and uncertainty in the model. Although concentrations of NDMA in foods are small and human exposure to NDMA from foods is quite low, the contribution from food is predicted to be high relative to that of drinking water. The mean concentration of NDMA in drinking water would need to increase from 2.1 × 10−3 μg/L to 0.10 μg/L, a 47-fold increase, for the POI to reach 1%, relative to all sources of NDMA considered in our model, suggesting that drinking water consumption is most likely a minor source of NDMA exposure.
- disinfection by-products
- drinking water
- exposure assessment
- © US Environmental Protection Agency 2007