Human respiratory uptake of chloroform and haloketones during showering

J Expo Anal Environ Epidemiol. 2005 Jan;15(1):6-16. doi: 10.1038/sj.jea.7500374.


Inhalation is an important exposure route for volatile water contaminants, including disinfection by-products (DBPs). A controlled human study was conducted on six subjects to determine the respiratory uptake of haloketones (HKs) and chloroform, a reference compound, during showering. Breath and air concentrations of the DBPs were measured using gas chromatography and electron capture detector during and following the inhalation exposures. A lower percentage of the HKs (10%) is released from shower water to air than that of chloroform (56%) under the experiment conditions due to the lower volatility of the HKs. Breath concentrations of the DBPs were elevated during the inhalation exposure, while breath concentrations decreased rapidly after the exposure. Approximately 85-90% of the inhaled HKs were absorbed, whereas only 70% of the inhaled chloroform was absorbed for the experiment conditions used. The respiratory uptake of the DBPs was estimated using a linear one-compartment model coupled with a plug flow stream model for the shower system. The internal dose of chloroform normalized to its water concentration was approximately four times that of the HKs after a 30-min inhalation exposure. Approximately 0.3-0.4% of the absorbed HKs and 2-9% of the absorbed chloroform were expired through lung excretion after the 30-min exposure. The inhalation exposure from a typical 10-15 min shower contributes significantly to the total dose for chloroform in chlorinated drinking water but only to a moderate extent for HKs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Baths
  • Breath Tests
  • Chloroform / administration & dosage*
  • Chloroform / chemistry*
  • Chloroform / pharmacokinetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhalation Exposure*
  • Ketones / administration & dosage*
  • Ketones / chemistry
  • Ketones / pharmacokinetics*
  • Male
  • Solvents / administration & dosage*
  • Solvents / chemistry
  • Solvents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Volatilization
  • Water
  • Water Pollutants / administration & dosage*
  • Water Pollutants / pharmacokinetics*


  • Ketones
  • Solvents
  • Water Pollutants
  • Water
  • Chloroform