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Drinking Water as a Proportion of Total Human Exposure to Volatile N-Nitrosamines



This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Erratum to “Drinking Water as a Proportion of Total Human Exposure to Volatile N-Nitrosamines” by Steve E. Hrudey, Richard J. Bull, Joseph A. Cotruvo, Greg Paoli, and Margaret Wilson, in Risk Analysis, 33(12):2179–2208 Volume 34, Issue 3, 598, Article first published online: 21 March 2014


Some volatile N-nitrosamines, primarily N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), are recognized as products of drinking water treatment at ng/L levels and as known carcinogens. The U.S. EPA has identified the N-nitrosamines as contaminants being considered for regulation as a group under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Nitrosamines are common dietary components, and a major database (over 18,000 drinking water samples) has recently been created under the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule. A Monte Carlo modeling analysis in 2007 found that drinking water contributed less than 2.8% of ingested NDMA and less than 0.02% of total NDMA exposure when estimated endogenous formation was considered. Our analysis, based upon human blood concentrations, indicates that endogenous NDMA production is larger than expected. The blood-based estimates are within the range that would be calculated from estimates based on daily urinary NDMA excretion and an estimate based on methylated guanine in DNA of lymphocytes from human volunteers. Our analysis of ingested NDMA from food and water based on Monte Carlo modeling with more complete data input shows that drinking water contributes a mean proportion of the lifetime average daily NDMA dose ranging from between 0.0002% and 0.001% for surface water systems using free chlorine or between 0.001% and 0.01% for surface water systems using chloramines. The proportions of average daily dose are higher for infants (zero to six months) than other age cohorts, with the highest mean up to 0.09% (upper 95th percentile of 0.3%).