The relationship between water concentrations and individual uptake of chloroform: a simulation study

Environ Health Perspect. 2003 May;111(5):688-94. doi: 10.1289/ehp.5963.


We simulated the relationship between water chloroform concentrations and chloroform uptake in pregnant women to assess the potential extent of exposure measurement error in epidemiologic studies of the health effects of exposure to water disinfection by-products. Data from the literature were used to assign statistical distributions to swimming pool chloroform concentrations, frequency and duration of swimming, showering and bathing, and average tap water consumption. Measured increases in blood chloroform concentrations after these activities were used to estimate average uptake per microgram per liter chloroform in the water, per minute spent in the activity or per liter consumed. Given average tap water chloroform concentrations from a U.K. epidemiologic study, an average daily uptake over 90 days was simulated for 300,000 mothers. The correlation between simulated uptakes and home tap chloroform concentration was 0.6. Mothers who swam regularly received far greater doses than did nonswimmers. Results suggest there will be considerable attenuation in risk estimates and/or power loss in epidemiologic studies if the putative agent is chloroform.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Baths
  • Chloroform / analysis
  • Chloroform / pharmacokinetics*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Pregnancy*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Solvents / analysis
  • Solvents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Swimming
  • Swimming Pools
  • Water Supply*


  • Solvents
  • Chloroform