Formation of toxic iodinated disinfection by-products from compounds used in medical imaging.Environ Sci Technol. 2011 Aug 15; 45(16):6845-54.ES
Iodinated X-ray contrast media (ICM) were investigated as a source of iodine in the formation of iodo-trihalomethane (iodo-THM) and iodo-acid disinfection byproducts (DBPs), both of which are highly genotoxic and/or cytotoxic in mammalian cells. ICM are widely used at medical centers to enable imaging of soft tissues (e.g., organs, veins, blood vessels) and are designed to be inert substances, with 95% eliminated in urine and feces unmetabolized within 24 h. ICM are not well removed in wastewater treatment plants, such that they have been found at elevated concentrations in rivers and streams (up to 100 μg/L). Naturally occurring iodide in source waters is believed to be a primary source of iodine in the formation of iodo-DBPs, but a previous 23-city iodo-DBP occurrence study also revealed appreciable levels of iodo-DBPs in some drinking waters that had very low or no detectable iodide in their source waters. When 10 of the original 23 cities' source waters were resampled, four ICM were found--iopamidol, iopromide, iohexol, and diatrizoate--with iopamidol most frequently detected, in 6 of the 10 plants sampled, with concentrations up to 2700 ng/L. Subsequent controlled laboratory reactions of iopamidol with aqueous chlorine and monochloramine in the absence of natural organic matter (NOM) produced only trace levels of iodo-DBPs; however, when reacted in real source waters (containing NOM), chlorine and monochloramine produced significant levels of iodo-THMs and iodo-acids, up to 212 nM for dichloroiodomethane and 3.0 nM for iodoacetic acid, respectively, for chlorination. The pH behavior was different for chlorine and monochloramine, such that iodo-DBP concentrations maximized at higher pH (8.5) for chlorine, but at lower pH (6.5) for monochloramine. Extracts from chloraminated source waters with and without iopamidol, as well as from chlorinated source waters with iopamidol, were the most cytotoxic samples in mammalian cells. Source waters with iopamidol but no disinfectant added were the least cytotoxic. While extracts from chlorinated and chloraminated source waters were genotoxic, the addition of iopamidol enhanced their genotoxicity. Therefore, while ICM are not toxic in themselves, their presence in source waters may be a source of concern because of the formation of highly toxic iodo-DBPs in chlorinated and chloraminated drinking water.