Methods and Project Details

General methodology:

Chemicals present in the water samples will be analyzed using a variety of techniques capable of detecting a very large range of compounds. Analytical results will be screened for a long list of potential cancer-causing agents and chemicals that may disrupt endocrine function. Sophisticated data analysis approaches will be used to discover compounds that contribute to observed endocrine disrupting activity. Significant differences between chemical profiles and endocrine activity in drinking water will be statistically compared between areas with different breast cancer rates, areas relying on different types of source water and treatment technology, neighborhoods with different poverty rates, and across seasons.

Innovative elements:

This study will be the largest systematic investigation ever conducted of unmonitored potential carcinogens in diverse drinking water sources, and it will provide statewide estimates of exposure to potential carcinogens and endocrine disrupting compounds. It employs an innovative and integrated application of four distinct organic compound detection technologies that have recently been validated for environmental monitoring applications but have never been jointly applied to drinking water.

The advanced instrumentation and data processing technologies used will provide an unprecedented level of detail in characterizing compounds present in drinking water and their potential to promote cancer formation. An innovative study design will allow us to determine whether compounds of concern arise from water source type, local or regional land uses, treatment system decisions, or household level factors.

Findings from this study will inform possible changes in treatment plant operation and/or household behavior to reduce exposures to contaminants that may contribute to breast cancer formation.