Pharmaceuticals in tap water: human health risk assessment and proposed monitoring framework in China

Leung, Ho Wing, Jin, Ling, Wei, Si, Tsui, Mirabelle Mei Po, Zhou, Bingsheng, Jiao, Liping, Cheung, Pak Chuen, Chun, Yiu Kan, Murphy, Margaret Burkhardt and Lam, Paul Kwan Sing (2013) Pharmaceuticals in tap water: human health risk assessment and proposed monitoring framework in China. Environmental Health Perspectives, 121 7: 839-846. doi:10.1289/ehp.1206244

Attached Files (Some files may be inaccessible until you login with your UQ eSpace credentials)
Name Description MIMEType Size Downloads
UQ311155_fulltext.pdf Full text (open access) application/pdf 974.38KB 0

Author Leung, Ho Wing
Jin, Ling
Wei, Si
Tsui, Mirabelle Mei Po
Zhou, Bingsheng
Jiao, Liping
Cheung, Pak Chuen
Chun, Yiu Kan
Murphy, Margaret Burkhardt
Lam, Paul Kwan Sing
Title Pharmaceuticals in tap water: human health risk assessment and proposed monitoring framework in China
Journal name Environmental Health Perspectives   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0091-6765
Publication date 2013-07-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1289/ehp.1206244
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 121
Issue 7
Start page 839
End page 846
Total pages 8
Place of publication Research Triangle Park, NC, United States
Publisher U.S. Department of Health and Human Services * National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Background: Pharmaceuticals are known to contaminate tap water worldwide, but the relevant human health risks have not been assessed in China.

Objectives: We monitored 32 pharmaceuticals in Chinese tap water and evaluated the life-long human health risks of exposure in order to provide information for future prioritization and risk management.

Methods: We analyzed samples (n = 113) from 13 cities and compared detected concentrations with existing or newly-derived safety levels for assessing risk quotients (RQs) at different life stages, excluding the prenatal stage.

Results: We detected 17 pharmaceuticals in 89% of samples, with most detectable concentrations (92%) at < 50 ng/L. Caffeine (median-maximum, nanograms per liter: 24.4-564), metronidazole (1.8-19.3), salicylic acid (16.6-41.2), clofibric acid (1.2-3.3), carbamazepine (1.3-6.7), and dimetridazole (6.9-14.7) were found in ≥ 20% of samples. Cities within the Yangtze River region and Guangzhou were regarded as contamination hot spots because of elevated levels and frequent positive detections. Of the 17 pharmaceuticals detected, 13 showed very low risk levels, but 4 (i.e., dimetridazole, thiamphenicol, sulfamethazine, and clarithromycin) were found to have at least one life-stage RQ ≥ 0.01, especially for the infant and child life stages, and should be considered of high priority for management. We propose an indicator-based monitoring framework for providing information for source identification, water treatment effectiveness, and water safety management in China.

Conclusion: Chinese tap water is an additional route of human exposure to pharmaceuticals, particularly for dimetridazole, although the risk to human health is low based on current toxicity data. Pharmaceutical detection and application of the proposed monitoring framework can be used for water source protection and risk management in China and elsewhere.
Keyword China
Life stage
Risk assessment
Tap water
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Reproduced with permission from Environmental Health Perspectives

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2014 Collection
National Research Centre for Environmental Toxicology Publications
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 49 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 56 times in Scopus Article | Citations
Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Sun, 29 Sep 2013, 10:02:43 EST by System User on behalf of National Res Centre For Environmental Toxicology