CHO cell cytotoxicity and genotoxicity analyses of disinfection by-products: An updated review

Elizabeth D. Wagner, Michael J. Plewa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The disinfection of drinking water is an important public health service that generates high quality, safe and palatable tap water. The disinfection of drinking water to reduce waterborne disease was an outstanding public health achievement of the 20th century. An unintended consequence is the reaction of disinfectants with natural organic matter, anthropogenic contaminants and bromide/iodide to form disinfection by-products (DBPs). A large number of DBPs are cytotoxic, neurotoxic, mutagenic, genotoxic, carcinogenic and teratogenic. Epidemiological studies demonstrated low but significant associations between disinfected drinking water and adverse health effects. The distribution of DBPs in disinfected waters has been well defined by advances in high precision analytical chemistry. Progress in the analytical biology and toxicology of DBPs has been forthcoming. The objective of this review was to provide a detailed presentation of the methodology for the quantitative, comparative analyses on the induction of cytotoxicity and genotoxicity of 103 DBPs using an identical analytical biological platform and endpoints. A single Chinese hamster ovary cell line was employed in the assays. The data presented are derived from papers published in the literature as well as additional new data and represent the largest direct quantitative comparison on the toxic potency of both regulated and emerging DBPs. These data may form the foundation of novel research to define the major forcing agents of DBP-mediated toxicity in disinfected water and may play an important role in achieving the goal of making safe drinking water better.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-76
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of environmental sciences (China)
StatePublished - Aug 2017


  • DBPs
  • Mammalian cell cytotoxicity
  • Mammalian cell genotoxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)


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