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What Are Emerging Contaminants in Drinking Water?

The Water Quality Association tracks the quality of drinking water and is sounding the alarm on emerging contaminants in the water we use every day to drink, bathe, cook, and clean with. These chemicals may have been present in smaller concentrations in previous years but are becoming more widespread and are not typically by consumer water companies. Because these substances in the water are relatively new, the potential harm they pose is not yet fully apparent.

What are the Emerging Contaminants?

Emerging contaminants are a different category from the typical contaminants found in drinking water such as lead, high mineral levels, biologicals, and older, more understood chemicals from agriculture or industry. Unfortunately, these new contaminants consist of things that people use every day including pharmaceuticals and personal care products. Perchlorate is a relatively new contaminant, as are endocrine disrupting compounds or EDCs.

  • Perchlorate: Perchlorate is a complex chemical. It occurs naturally and is also used as a human-made chemical in the production of explosives and fuels. For the most part, this chemical is associated with the military and with aerospace industries. It is a likely carcinogen and disrupts thyroid activity.
  • Endocrine Disruptors: Endocrine disruptors interfere with the endocrine system and are responsible for cancers, birth defects, and developmental disorders. Some endocrine disruptors are phytoestrogens, bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates, flame retardants, and dioxins.
  • Pharmaceuticals: Most pharmaceuticals are eliminated from the human body, but other pathways to contamination include flushing expired or excess product, leaching from landfills, and simply bathing every morning. Pharmaceuticals also enter the water supply from agriculture by way of animal waste.

Make Your Water Safe

A pure water filtration system for the entire house is the best way to eliminate any chance of contamination. A pure water filtration system can include reverse osmosis, carbon filtration, and peroxidation methods. Many of these methods can be DIY’ed in order to reduce the expense and increase confidence that your water is healthy and safe to use.

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