The lifetime cancer risk and the hazard index of trihalomethanes (THMs) through oral ingestion, dermal absorption, and inhalation exposure from tap water of 15 districts in Istanbul are estimated. The most dominant THM compounds are chloroform, bromodichloromethane (BDCM), and dibronrochloromethane (DBCM) in Istanbul tap water. The results indicate that within three different pathways, Istanbul residents had a higher cancer risk through oral ingestion than through the other two pathways. The lifetime cancer risks of oral ingestion for total THMs was highest in Esenyurt district, while the lowest lifetime cancer risk for total THMs was in Basaksehir district. The lifetime cancer risks of chloroform, BDCM, and DBCM from tap water of all 15 districts were higher than 10(-6), the negligible risk level defined by the USEPA. Among the 15 districts, people living in Esenyurt have the highest risk of cancer due to the THM exposure through the multi-pathways, mainly because of the exposure to BDCM and DBCM. The total cancer risk analysis concluded that each year approximately 5 of the 8 million Istanbul residents could get cancer from the daily intake of tap water. (C) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.