Chlorination by-product Level in Hot Tap Water: Significance and Variability

Legay, C., Leduc, S., Dubé, J., Levallois, P., Rodriguez, M. (2019). Chlorination by-product Level in Hot Tap Water: Significance and Variability, Science of the Total Environment, 651(2019): 1735-1741.

People are exposed to chlorinated by-products (CBPs) through the consumption of cold tap water (CTW) (ingestion, inhalation, dermal contact) but also through the use of hot tap water (HTW) in such activities as showering and bathing (inhalation, dermal contact). This study focuses on the impact of residential water heating on CBP levels in tap water. Trihalomethane (THM) and haloacetic acid (HAA) levels were measured in the CTW and HTW of 50 residences located in two distribution systems supplied by chlorinated surface water during summer and winter. Results show important differences between CBP levels measured in cold and hot tap water. However, the magnitude of changes differs according to the specific species of THMs and HAAs, the season, the distribution system and the location within the same distribution system. Residential water heating led to an increase in average THM levels for the two distribution systems studied, which tended to be greater in winter. Residential water heating affected the two main HAA species found in the area studied (dichloroacetic (DCAA) and trichloroacetic (TCAA) acids) differently. In fact, the average DCAA levels increased due to water residential heating while a small change in average levels was observed for TCAA. However, the water heating impact on HAAs (in terms of importance and sometimes of tendency (increase vs. decrease)) may also differed between residences. The influence of seasons on the change in the average DCAA and TCAA levels (in μg/L) from residential water heating was not statistically significant except for TCAA levels in one distribution system. Results show the importance of considering site-specific characteristics of CTW (CBP level, temperature, residual chlorine, etc.) to estimate the levels of CBPs in HTW in CBP exposure assessment studies (and not to generalize for an entire population). The reported data can thus be useful in assessing for exposure to DBPs in epidemiological studies.