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J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2009 Mar;19(3):248-59. doi: 10.1038/jes.2008.7. Epub 2008 Mar 12.

Predictors of personal air concentrations of chloroform among US adults in NHANES 1999-2000.

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Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.


Volunteer studies suggest that showering/bathing with chlorinated tap water contributes to daily chloroform inhalation exposure for the majority of US adults. We used data from the 1999-2000 US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and weighted multiple linear regression to test the hypothesis that personal exposure microevents such as showering or spending time at a swimming pool would be significantly associated with chloroform levels in 2-3 day personal air samples. The NHANES data show that eight of 10 US adults are exposed to detectable levels of chloroform. Median (1.13 microg/m(3)), upper percentile (95th, 12.05 microg/m(3)), and cancer risk estimates were similar to those from recent US regional studies. Significant predictors of log personal air chloroform in our model (R(2)=0.34) included age, chloroform concentrations in home tap water, having no windows open at home during the sampling period, visiting a swimming pool during the sampling period, living in a mobile home/trailer or apartment versus living in a single family (detached) home, and being Non-Hispanic Black versus Non-Hispanic White, although the race/ethnicity estimates appear influenced by several outlying observations. Reported showering activity was not a significant predictor of personal air chloroform, possibly due to the wording of the NHANES shower question. The NHANES measurements likely underestimate true inhalation exposures since subjects did not wear sampling badges while showering or swimming, and because of potential undersampling by the passive monitors. Research is needed to quantify the potential difference.

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