Multipathway risk assessment on disinfection by-products of drinking water in Hong Kong

S. C. Lee, Hai Guo, S. M.J. Lam, S. L.A. Lau

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

166 Citations (Scopus)


The lifetime cancer risk and the hazard index of trihalomethanes (THMs) through oral ingestion, dermal absorption, and inhalation exposure from tap water in 19 districts in Hong Kong are estimated. The most dominant THMs are chloroform and bromodichloromethane (BDCM) in Hong Kong tap water. Among the three different pathways, residents have a higher risk of cancer through oral ingestion than through the other two pathways. The lifetime cancer risks through oral ingestion and dermal absorption for BDCM make the highest percentage contribution (59%) to total risks, followed by chloroform (24%). The chloroform and BDCM are at or above the negligible risk level of 10-6by a factor of 10 or more in most districts. Among the 19 districts, people living in Sai Kung have the highest risk of cancer due to the THM exposure through the multipathways, mainly because of the exposure to BDCM and dibromochloromethane (DBCM). The total cancer risk analysis indicates that each year approximately 10 out of the seven million Hong Kong residents could get cancer from the daily intake of water.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-56
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004


  • Dermal absorption
  • Inhalation
  • Multi-pathway
  • Oral ingestion
  • Risk assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • General Environmental Science


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