science   BRIEF
Prevalence of Emerging  Contaminants in  Drinking Water
across the United  States
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Research
and Development and the U.S. Geological Survey's Toxic
Substances Hydrology Program are collaborating on research to
determine the presence of emerging contaminants in both source
water and finished drinking water across the United States. These
"emerging contaminants" include a wide range of chemicals used
or even consumed in homes, businesses and industries.

Up to 50 drinking water treatment plants will be sampled across
the United States. The treatment plants chosen for this study have
source waters impacted by a variety of waste sources (e.g.
municipal waste, septic systems, livestock production, etc.).
Sampling is scheduled to begin in fall 2009 and is expected to be
completed in 2010. The samples will be analyzed for over 200
chemical and microbiological constituents, including:

   117 prescription and nonprescription Pharmaceuticals and
    their metabolites
   17 perfluorinated compounds
   13 industrial chemicals
   11 fragrances
   9 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
   8 hormones
   8 pesticides
   7 detergent-related chemicals
   7 household chemicals
   4 plant and animal sterols
   3 phosphorous-based flame retardants
   1 nanomaterial
   5 bacteria
   3 fungi
   2 protozoa
   2 viruses

Improvements in analytical chemistry instrumentation have
allowed scientists to measure increasingly lower amounts of
contaminants commonly used in today's society.  Wastewater
treatment is not designed to specifically remove such
contaminants, and thus a portion can remain in wastewater
treatment plant effluents. Effluents can be a major source of these
contaminants because they are commonly discharged into surface
                              waters by wastewater treatment plants. Natural processes such as
                              photolysis, sorption, volatilization, degradation, and simple dilution
                              all act to generally decrease the concentrations of emerging
                              contaminants.  However, if a drinking water treatment plant
                              facility is located downstream from a wastewater treatment plant
                              effluent outfall, or, is located in an area with high-density
                              household wastewater treatment or an area of intense livestock
                              production, there is potential for contaminants to be present in
                              finished drinking water. These contaminants currently are not
                              regulated in drinking water, and little is known about their

                              Study results will provide important baseline information on
                              emerging contaminants in drinking water and source waters
                              (untreated water from streams, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, or ground
                              water aquifers) as well as contaminants which persist following
                              drinking water treatment.

                              For more information, contact:
                              Susan T. Glassmeyer
                              Research Chemist, National Exposure Research Laboratory
                              Office of Research and Development
                              U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
                              glassmey er. susan@,epa. gov or 513-569-7526

                              Edward T. Furlong
                              Research Chemist
                              U.S. Geological Survey
                              efurlong(@,usgs.gov or  303-236-3941

                              Dana W. Kolpin
                              Research Hydrologist
                              U.S. Geological Survey
                              dwkolpintgiusgs.gov or 319-358-3614

                                                                    June 2009
         U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
         Office of Research and Development
                                                          U.S. Geological Survey
                                                Toxic Substances Hydrology Program