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Volatilization of Chemicals from Tap Water to Indoor Air from Contaminated Water Used for Showering

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journal contribution
posted on 29.05.1999 by Jacqueline Moya, Cynthia Howard-Reed, Richard L. Corsi
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) may enter indoor air during the use of contaminated tap water. When this occurs, occupants can become exposed to potentially toxic VOCs via the inhalation route. The propensity for VOCs to volatilize into indoor air during the routine use of showers was investigated. A series of mass transfer experiments were conducted while a shower was operated within an enclosed chamber. Acetone, ethyl acetate, toluene, ethylbenzene, and cyclohexane were used as volatile tracers. Chemical-specific stripping efficiencies and mass transfer coefficients were determined. An assessment of the importance of gas-phase resistance to mass transfer from water to air was also completed. Chemical-specific stripping efficiencies ranged from 6.3% (for acetone) to 80% (for cyclohexane) for household showers used under normal conditions. As described in this paper, data resulting from this study allow for the determination of overall mass transfer coefficients, and corresponding volatilization rates, for any showering event and chemical of interest. As such, the information presented herein should lead to improved estimates of human inhalation exposure to toxic chemicals that volatilize from water to indoor air.