Standard Article

Biological Criteria for Water Quality in Relation to Human Health

Environmental and Ecotoxicology

  1. Robert A. Howd PhD

Published Online: 15 DEC 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9780470744307.gat098

General, Applied and Systems Toxicology

General, Applied and Systems Toxicology

How to Cite

Howd, R. A. 2009. Biological Criteria for Water Quality in Relation to Human Health. General, Applied and Systems Toxicology. .

Author Information

  1. California Environmental Protection Agency, Chief, Water Toxicology Section, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, Oakland, California, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2009

Abstract

Development of regulatory criteria for contaminants in drinking water has been formalized with widely accepted risk assessment conventions and guidelines in North America and Europe. Acceptable levels for chemicals which are considered noncarcinogenic are estimated using an uncertainty-factor approach, while for carcinogens a quantitative extrapolation is performed, based on cancer incidence in humans or animals. These methods incorporate a precautionary approach in order to minimize the risk of any adverse effects from exposure to drinking water, considering variability in both exposure and sensitivity to potential toxic effects. The wide variety of toxic agents and end points provide more than ample opportunities for controversies and disagreements, as well as further research. However, the current regulatory system is responsible for delivering consistently high-quality water, which has resulted in a tremendous improvement in public health.

Keywords:

  • drinking water;
  • regulations;
  • risk assessment;
  • toxicity;
  • contaminants