Chemical Contaminants in Drinking Water: An Integrated Exposure Analysis


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Virginia Tech


The objective of this research is to develop an integrated exposure model, which performs uncertainty analysis of exposure to the entire range of chemical contaminants in drinking water via inhalation, ingestion and dermal sorption. The study is focused on a residential environment. The various water devices considered are shower, bath, bathroom, kitchen faucet, washing machine and the dishwasher. All devices impact inhalation exposure, while showering, bathing and washing hands are considered in the analysis of dermal exposure.

A set of transient mass balance equations are solved numerically to predict the concentration profiles of a chemical contaminant for three different compartments in a house (shower, bathroom and main house). Inhalation exposure is computed by combining this concentration profile with the occupancy and activity patterns of a specific individual. Mathematical models of dermal penetration, which account for steady and non-steady state analysis, are used to estimate exposure via dermal absorption. Mass transfer coefficients are used to compute the fraction of contaminant remaining in water at the time of ingestion before estimating ingestion exposure.

Three chemical contaminant in water: chloroform, chromium and methyl parathion are considered for detailed analysis. These contaminants cover a wide range in chemical properties. The magnitude of overall exposure and comparison of the relative contribution of individual exposure pathways for each contaminant is evaluated.

The major pathway of exposure for chloroform is inhalation, which accounts for 2/3rd of the total exposure. Dermal absorption and ingestion exposures contribute almost equally to the remaining 1/3rd of total exposure for chloroform. Ingestion accounts for about 60% of total exposure for methyl parathion and the remaining 40% of exposure is via dermal sorption. Nearly all of the total exposure (98%) for chromium is via the ingestion pathway.



Monte Carlo simulation, Uncertainty, Exposure, Contaminant