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Cumulative Risk Assessment Framework for Waterborne Contaminants

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DOI: 10.4236/jep.2012.35050    5,346 Downloads   8,243 Views   Citations

ABSTRACT

A framework is developed and applied for semi-quantitative estimation of cumulative risk from complex mixtures of compounds in water supplies. The framework places these risks onto the unifying metric of Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs), and harmonizes cancer and non-cancer, morbidity and mortality, effects. The framework can be used to: 1) calculate a measure of cumulative risk for a given supply, and compare this measure across supplies or across the same supply with candidate treatments applied; 2) identify those compounds contributing most significantly to cumulative risk, so risk management measures can be applied most effectively; and 3) quantify the influence of different regulatory limits, for specific compounds, on the cumulative risk from drinking water. Results of application to a hypothetical water supply in which all compounds are at their existing Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) show the cumulative risk for even a complex mixture may be dominated by a few compounds. In this application, that risk was dominated by as few as 10% of the compounds. The analysis also shows that establishing MCLs based on compounds for which there is an oral slope factor, but where no cancer-based limit has yet been established, probably will have little influence on the relative cumulative risk (as measured by Total Weighted DALY) of different water supplies. This arises primarily because the non-cancer-based MCL is usually more restrictive than the one based on cancer for target probabilities of cancer equal to 1E–4 or 1E–5.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

D. Crawford-Brown and S. Crawford-Brown, "Cumulative Risk Assessment Framework for Waterborne Contaminants," Journal of Environmental Protection, Vol. 3 No. 5, 2012, pp. 400-413. doi: 10.4236/jep.2012.35050.

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