Contaminants of Emerging Concern

When we lather up our hair with shampoo in the morning, we seldom think about what is actually going down the drain to be treated at the local wastewater treatment plant. We may also assume that these facilities are able to properly treat the shower water.

However, shampoo—and many other products used daily by households and industries—contain compounds that are resistant to traditional water treatments.

These compounds are called Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs), a term used by water quality professionals to describe pollutants that are detected in water bodies, may cause ecological or human health issues, and typically are not monitored or regulated under current environmental laws.

Both Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are reporting that CECs are increasingly and consistently being found in groundwater, surface water, municipal wastewater, drinking water, and food sources.

Besides personal care products, common CECs include pesticides, pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals and surfactants (detergents). They are finding their way into watersheds because traditional water treatments—such as chlorine and ultraviolet (UV)—have shown to be largely ineffective at treating or removing these contaminants.

Recent research suggests that exposure to pharmaceuticals and other chemicals in drinking water may affect human reproductive systems.

While traditional water treatments are largely ineffective at eradicating CECs, there is an increasing body of evidence that indicates… Click here for the full article: Contaminants of Emerging Concern – Water Canada