Who/sde/wsh/03. 04/76

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  • Preface








English only 













Barium in Drinking-water 



Background document for development of 

WHO Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality









































© World Health Organization 2004 


Requests for permission to reproduce or translate WHO publications - whether for sale of for non-

commercial distribution - should be addressed to Publications (Fax: +41 22 791 4806; e-mail: 


The designations employed and the presentation of the material in this publication do not imply the 

expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the World Health Organization concerning the legal 

status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its 

frontiers or boundaries. 

The mention of specific companies or of certain manufacturers' products does not imply that they are 

endorsed or recommended by the World Health Organization in preference to others of a similar nature 

that are not mentioned. Errors and omissions excepted, the names of proprietary products are 

distinguished by initial capital letters. 

The World Health Organization does not warrant that the information contained in this publication is 

complete and correct and shall not be liable for any damage incurred as a results of its use. 






One of the primary goals of WHO and its member states is that “all people, whatever 

their stage of development and their social and economic conditions, have the right to 

have access to an adequate supply of safe drinking water.” A major WHO function to 

achieve such goals is the responsibility “to propose ... regulations, and to make 

recommendations with respect to international health matters ....” 


The first WHO document dealing specifically with public drinking-water quality was 

published in 1958 as International Standards for Drinking-water. It was subsequently 

revised in 1963 and in 1971 under the same title. In 1984–1985, the first edition of the 

WHO  Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality (GDWQ) was published in three 

volumes: Volume 1, Recommendations; Volume 2, Health criteria and other 

supporting information; and Volume 3, Surveillance and control of community 

supplies. Second editions of these volumes were published in 1993, 1996 and 1997, 

respectively. Addenda to Volumes 1 and 2 of the second edition were published in 

1998, addressing selected chemicals. An addendum on microbiological aspects 

reviewing selected microorganisms was published in 2002. 


The GDWQ are subject to a rolling revision process. Through this process, microbial, 

chemical and radiological aspects of drinking-water are subject to periodic review

and documentation related to aspects of protection and control of public drinking-

water quality is accordingly prepared/updated. 


Since the first edition of the GDWQ, WHO has published information on health 

criteria and other supporting information to the GDWQ, describing the approaches 

used in deriving guideline values and presenting critical reviews and evaluations of 

the effects on human health of the substances or contaminants examined in drinking-



For each chemical contaminant or substance considered, a lead institution prepared a 

health criteria document evaluating the risks for human health from exposure to the 

particular chemical in drinking-water. Institutions from Canada, Denmark, Finland, 

France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, United 

Kingdom and United States of America prepared the requested health criteria 



Under the responsibility of the coordinators for a group of chemicals considered in the 

guidelines, the draft health criteria documents were submitted to a number of 

scientific institutions and selected experts for peer review. Comments were taken into 

consideration by the coordinators and authors before the documents were submitted 

for final evaluation by the experts meetings. A “final task force” meeting reviewed the 

health risk assessments and public and peer review comments and, where appropriate, 

decided upon guideline values. During preparation of the third edition of the GDWQ

it was decided to include a public review via the world wide web in the process of 

development of the health criteria documents. 


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