Report No FR0210

R I Crane and M Fielding

June 1991



To provide comparative data on the exposure of consumers to organic contaminants, such as pesticides, from drinking water and other sources such as food and air.


The presence of a wide range of organic and inorganic chemicals in drinking water has been the source of much concern in recent years and increasingly the topic is in the public eye. All too often the presence of a particular contaminant in drinking water and its possible significance to health is viewed in isolation from other sources of exposure, such as from foodstuffs and the atmosphere. Thus, a more balanced view of consumer exposure to priority contaminants would put the drinking water contribution in proper perspective.


There are gaps in the available information which make it difficult to make direct comparisons between intake of the pesticides found in drinking water and intakes of these compounds from other sources. One of the problems is that the detection limits for these compounds in foodstuffs may not be adequate to assess intakes with the same resolution, i.e. the intake from drinking water may be below that which could be detected in food. In general analyses of pesticides in foods have concentrated on substances which have not been found in UK drinking waters. The pesticides most frequently found in drinking water are herbicides. However, these have been of only minor interest in food analysis in the past, although there are indications that more attention will be given in the future.


An assessment of the relative intake of pesticides found in drinking water and exposure of consumers to these substances from foodstuffs and the atmosphere has been attempted. However, not enough data have been found as yet but it is suspected that more information does exist. Thus this report is essentially a progress report and the completed assessment will be included in the final report.

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