HEALTH ASPECTS OF ORGANIC COMPOUNDS IN DRINKING WATER: FEASIBILITY OF A RETROSPECTIVE STUDY OF INDIVIDUALS TO ASSESS CERTAIN CANCER RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH DRINKING WATER QUALITY (H4298C) Final Contract Report to the Department of the Environment (October 1981 - March 1982)
Report No DWI0092

Jun 1982

SUMMARY

Recent epidemiological studies in the London area have suggested that some adverse health effects may be weakly associated with re-used rivers as a source of drinking water. This evidence is consistent with the results of several studies in the United States. There is also a hypothesis arising from a study in this country that the risk of cancer mortality in women is increased in areas supplied with water derived from upland catchments. These health effects are small, but further work perhaps needs to be done to clarify their nature and scale. To this end the present report assesses the feasibility of further research based on retrospective case-control methodology.

The report discusses a number of considerations in the design of case control studies: the choice of cases and of controls., the advantages and disadvantages of matching, and the information that would need to be included about diet and life-style. References are made to recent case control studies that have been carried out in other countries. The report puts forward three possible designs of study and estimates their likely effectiveness and costs.

The report concludes that the decision whether or not to support epidemiological research of this kind should rest on whether the Water Industry would be prepared to act on the strength of evidence that it provides.

Copies of this report may be available as an Acrobat pdf download under the 'Pre 2000 Reports' heading on the DWI website.