Determinants of Whether or Not Mixtures of Disinfection By-Products are Similar
Reactive chemicals have been used to disinfect drinking waters for over a century. In the 1970s, it was first observed that the reaction of these chemicals with the natural organic matter (NOM) in source waters results in the production of variable, complex mixtures of disinfection by-products (DBP). Because limited toxicological and epidemiological data are available to assess potential human health risks from complex DBP mixture exposures, methods are needed to determine when health effects data on a specific DBP mixture may be used as a surrogate for evaluating another environmental DBP mixture of interest. Before risk assessors attempt such efforts, a set of criteria needs to be in place to determine whether two or more DBP mixtures are similar in composition and toxicological potential. This study broadly characterizes the chemical and toxicological measures that may be used to evaluate similarities among DBP mixtures. Variables are discussed that affect qualitative and quantitative shifts in the types of DBP that are formed, including disinfectants used, their reactions with NOM and with bromide/iodide, pH, temperature, time, and changes in the water distribution system. The known toxicological activities of DBP mixtures and important single DBPs are also presented in light of their potential for producing similar toxicity. While DBP exposures are associated with a number of health effects, this study focuses on (1) mutagenic activity of DBP mixtures, (2) DBP cancer epidemiology, and (3) toxicology studies to evaluate similarity among DBP mixtures. Data suggest that further chemical characterization of DBP mixtures and more systematic study of DBP toxicology will improve the quality and usefulness of similarity criteria.
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- "While advances have been made since then in toxicological testing and conceptual modeling of complex mixtures (Dennison et al., 2004; Verhaar et al., 1997; Yang et al., 2004), statistical methods have lagged. Statistical chapters in later texts on mixtures also focus on simple mixtures (Mumtaz 2010) and recent journal articles on complex mixtures mostly address the concept of toxicological similarity (Bull et al., 2009; Feder et al., 2009a,b; Marshall et al., 2013; Rice et al., 2009; Stork et al., 2008). "
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ABSTRACT: Humans are exposed daily to complex mixtures of environmental chemical contaminants, which arise as releases from sources such as engineering procedures, degradation processes, and emissions from mobile or stationary sources. When dose-response data are available for the actual environmental mixture to which individuals are exposed (i.e., the mixture of concern), these data provide the best information for dose-response assessment of the mixture. When suitable data on the mixture itself are not available, surrogate data might be used from a sufficiently similar mixture or a group of similar mixtures. Consequently, the determination of whether the mixture of concern is "sufficiently similar" to a tested mixture or a group of tested mixtures is central to the use of whole mixture methods. This article provides an overview for a series of companion articles whose purpose is to develop a set of biostatistical, chemical, and toxicological criteria and approaches for evaluating the similarity of drinking-water disinfection by-product (DBPs) complex mixtures. Together, the five articles in this series serve as a case study whose techniques will be relevant to assessing similarity for other classes of complex mixtures of environmental chemicals. Schenck et al. (2009) describe the chemistry and mutagenicity of a set of DBP mixtures concentrated from five different drinking-water treatment plants. Bull et al. (2009a, 2009b) describe how the variables that impact the formation of DBP affect the chemical composition and, subsequently, the expected toxicity of the mixture. Feder et al. (2009a, 2009b) evaluate the similarity of DBP mixture concentrates by applying two biostatistical approaches, principal components analysis, and a nonparametric "bootstrap" analysis. Important factors for determining sufficient similarity of DBP mixtures found in this research include disinfectant used; source water characteristics, including the concentrations of bromide and total organic carbon; concentrations and proportions of individual DBPs with known toxicity data on the same endpoint; magnitude of the unidentified fraction of total organic halides; similar toxicity outcomes for whole mixture testing (e.g., mutagenicity); and summary chemical measures such as total trihalomethanes, total haloacetic acids, total haloacetonitriles, and the levels of bromide incorporation in the DBP classes.
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ABSTRACT: There are few measures that can be used to distinguish among mixtures of disinfection by-products (DBPs) produced in the chlorination or chloramination of drinking water. Objective measures of similarities among DBP mixtures would greatly simplify judgments about the risk that may be associated with exposure to DBPs in a given water supply. Major by-products of chlorination/chloramination include the trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs), which are routinely measured for compliance to regulations. A key question is whether measurement of similar amounts of these DBPs is indicative of the myriad other DBPs that are known to be produced. This article utilized data from a survey of 35 utilities in the United States that included several additional parameters, including members of the haloacetonitrile, trihaloacetaldehyde, and halopropanone classes. Based upon the distribution of bromine in the THM class, the concentrations of unmeasured brominated and bromochlorinated compounds could be determined. This allowed determination of whether measures of the THM and/or HAA classes reflected the amounts of these less abundant classes. Variations in relative yields among DBP classes were observed with water source type and with whether chlorine or chloramine was used as the disinfectant. However, most of the variability was attributable to geographic location. The relative abundance of brominated by-products also varied among water sources. Recent documentation that potent by-products, such as nitrosamines, are selectively produced in particular water systems and preferentially with chloramination indicates that more measures of individual DBP are needed to evaluate similarity among DBPs mixtures.
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