Nationwide reconnaissance of contaminants of emerging concern in source and treated drinking waters of the United States

Glassmeyer, S.T., et al., Science of The Total Environment, 581-582:909-922, March 2017

When chemical or microbial contaminants are assessed for potential effect or possible regulation in ambient and drinking waters, a critical first step is determining if the contaminants occur and if they are at concentrations that may cause human or ecological health concerns. To this end, source and treated drinking water samples from 29 drinking water treatment plants (DWTPs) were analyzed as part of a two-phase study to determine whether chemical and microbial constituents, many of which are considered contaminants of emerging concern, were detectable in the waters. Of the 84 chemicals monitored in the 9 Phase I DWTPs, 27 were detected at least once in the source water, and 21 were detected at least once in treated drinking water. In Phase II, which was a broader and more comprehensive assessment, 247 chemical and microbial analytes were measured in 25 DWTPs, with 148 detected at least once in the source water, and 121 detected at least once in the treated drinking water. The frequency of detection was often related to the analyte’s contaminant class, as pharmaceuticals and anthropogenic waste indicators tended to be infrequently detected and more easily removed during treatment, while per and polyfluoroalkyl substances and inorganic constituents were both more frequently detected and, overall, more resistant to treatment. The data collected as part of this project will be used to help inform evaluation of unregulated contaminants in surface water, groundwater, and drinking water.

Source: Water Feed

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