Human health risk assessment from exposure to trihalomethanes in Canadian cities

Environ Int. 2010 Jul;36(5):453-60. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2010.04.001.


Lifetime exposure to trihalomethanes (THMs) through ingestion, inhalation and dermal contacts may pose risks to human health. Current approaches may under predict THMs exposure by using THMs in cold water during showering and bathing. Warming of chlorinated water during showering may increase THMs formation through reactions between organics and residual chlorine, which can increase human health risks. In this study, THMs concentrations in shower water were estimated using THMs rate increase model. Using cold water THMs, exposure through ingestion was estimated, while THMs exposure during showering was estimated using THMs in warm water. Human health cancer risks and additional expenses for 20 most populated Canadian cities from exposure to THMs were estimated. Inhalation and dermal contact during showering contributed 30% to 50% of total cancer risks, while risks from inhalation and dermal contacts were comparable for all cities. Overall cancer risks were estimated between 7.2 x 10(-6) and 6.4 x 10(-5) for these cities. Cancer incidents were estimated highest for Montreal (94/year) followed by Toronto (53/year), which may require additional medical expenses of 18.8 and 10.7 million dollars/year for Montreal and Toronto respectively. Cancer risks from exposure to THMs can be controlled by reducing THMs in water supply and varying shower stall volume, shower duration and air exchange rate in shower stall.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Retracted Publication

MeSH terms

  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Cities
  • Eating
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Inhalation
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Neoplasms / economics
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Risk Assessment*
  • Skin Absorption
  • Trihalomethanes / toxicity*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*


  • Trihalomethanes
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical