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Combining Mass Spectrometry and Toxicology for a Multi-Country European Epidemiologic Study on Drinking Water Disinfection By-Products


Richardson, S., S. Anduri, M. Bloodgood, M. Plewa, C. Jeong, E. Wagner, M. Nieuwenhuijsen, M. Kogevinal, C. Villanueva, W. Luo, L. Isabelle, AND J. Pankow. Combining Mass Spectrometry and Toxicology for a Multi-Country European Epidemiologic Study on Drinking Water Disinfection By-Products. Presented at ASMS Conference, Vancouver, BC, CANADA, May 20 - 24, 2012.


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The HiWATE (Health Impacts of long-term exposure to disinfection by-products in drinking WATEr) project is the first systematic analysis that combines the epidemiology on adverse pregnancy outcomes with analytical chemistry and analytical biology in the European Union. This study involves the collaboration between epidemiologists, toxicologists, and chemists from the United States and Europe. Previous epidemiologic research in the United States has indicated an association of disinfection by-products (DBPs) with reproductive effects, such as miscarriage and birth defects. In this study, drinking water samples were collected from distribution systems from 11 different cities within 5 European countries where different disinfection methods are applied. Gas chromatography (GC) with low and high resolution mass spectrometry (MS) was used to comprehensively identify the disinfection by-products (DBPs) in these drinking waters. GCxGC-time-of-flight (TOF)-MS was also used to aid in providing a more complete picture of DBPs in the complex mixtures. Mammalian cell cytotoxicity and genotoxicity experiments were carried out on extracts from the complex drinking water mixtures to determine the effect of different disinfectants and source water quality on overall toxicity of the finished drinking water, and also to investigate possible correlations between the analytical chemistry results and toxicology. More than 70 DBPs were identified, including many toxicologically important DBPs that are not regulated and new DBPs that have not previously reported and were not present in the library databases (NIST or Wiley). Mass spectrometry was key to their identification. In addition, 21 DBPs were quantified, including regulated DBPs. DBP levels from Spain were the highest, and a greater number of brominated species were observed in these waters, which were relatively high in total organic carbon (TOC) and bromide, and were treated with chlorine, sometimes combined with other disinfectants like ozone or chlorine dioxide. DBP levels were lowest in Modena, Italy, where chlorine dioxide was used to treat groundwater that was low in TOC. Toxicity results generally correlated with the high brominated DBP waters, such that drinking waters from Spain were the most cytotoxic, and drinking water from Italy was the least cytotoxic. However, genotoxicity results did not always correlate with the presence of brominated DBPs, such that one location in the UK and one in Lithuania had genotoxicity similar to samples from Spain. Investigations into these effects, as well as epidemiology analyses of adverse birth outcomes, continue.

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Record Details:

Product Published Date: 05/24/2012
Record Last Revised: 01/03/2013
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 246558