Trihalomethanes in drinking water and the risk of death from kidney cancer: Does hardness in drinking water matter?

Yen Hsiung Liao, Chih Cheng Chen, Chih Ching Chang, Chiung Yu Peng, Hui Fen Chiu, Trong Neng Wu, Chun Yuh Yang

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5 Citations (Scopus)


The objectives of this study were to (1) examine the relationship between total trihalomethanes (TTHM) levels in public water supplies and risk of development of kidney cancer and (2) determine whether hardness levels in drinking water modify the effects of TTHM on risk of kidney cancer induction. A matched case-control study was used to investigate the relationship between the risk of death attributed to kidney cancer and exposure to TTHM in drinking water in 53 municipalities in Taiwan. All kidney cancer deaths in the 53 municipalities from 1998 through 2007 were obtained. Controls were deaths from other causes and were pair-matched to the cancer cases by gender, year of birth, and year of death. Each matched control was selected randomly from the set of possible controls for each cancer case. Data on TTHM levels and levels of hardness in drinking water were also collected. The municipality of residence for cancer cases and controls was presumed to be the source of the subject's TTHM and hardness exposure via drinking water. Relative to individuals whose TTHM exposure level was <4.9 ppb, the adjusted OR (95% CI) for kidney cancer was 0.98 (0.77-1.25) for individuals who resided in municipalities served by drinking water with a TTHM exposure ≥4.9 ppb. However, evidence of an interaction was noted between the use of soft water and drinking water TTHM concentrations. Increased knowledge of the interaction between hardness and TTHM levels in reducing risk of kidney cancer development will aid in public policy decision and establishing standards to prevent disease occurrence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340-350
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Toxicology and Environmental Health - Part A: Current Issues
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Mar 15

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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