Does Exposure to Nitrate in Drinking Water Contribute Anything the Effect of Water Chlorination on Children Methemoglobin Levels?


Previous studies showed contradictory findings regarding the relationship between nitrate in drinking well-water and abnormal methemoglobin (MetHb) level (>2%) among children. We studied the effect of water chlorination in this relationship in children aged up to 7. 240 subclinical children participated in this cross-sectional study. Water nitrate was analyzed for each participant, and so was blood MetHb. Analysis of two water nitrate exposure levels (<50 and="">50 mg/L as )-other extraneous factors (Breslow-Day-Test for interaction), bivariate and multivariate analyses were performed. Abnormal MetHb levels (up to 7.9%) were associated (p-value = 0.020) with exposure to drinking water nitrate. Only water chlorination was an effect modifier. Among those who do not disinfect water, the prevalence of ab- normal MetHb for those with nitrate level >50 mg/L was 4.95 (p-value = 0.001, 95% CI = [1.92 - 12.79]) times the prevalence for those with nitrate level <50 mg/L. Whereas, among those who do disinfect water, the prevalence for those with high nitrate levels was only 1.38 (p-value = 0.435, 95% CI = [0.62 - 3.07]) times the prevalence of those with low nitrate levels. The biological plausibility of a relationship between waterborne microorganisms, drinking water nitrate, drinking water chlorination, and development of an abnormal MetHb level needs to be further explored.

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M. Sadeq, R. Abouqal, B. Attarassi, M. Lakranbi, R. ElAouad and L. Idrissi, "Does Exposure to Nitrate in Drinking Water Contribute Anything the Effect of Water Chlorination on Children Methemoglobin Levels?," Journal of Environmental Protection, Vol. 3 No. 2, 2012, pp. 169-176. doi: 10.4236/jep.2012.32021.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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