IWA Publishing

IWA Publishing

Solving the problem of emerging contaminants in drinking water: Taming the Monster

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Products that are part of our daily lives are now said to be potential sources of pollution in drinking water especially in industrialised communities. Recent studies show that a huge amount of personal care products, pharmaceuticals and household materials are contributing to water pollution. These contaminants which are of obvious concern because of their proven health effects on aquatic life and potential health effects on humans are not necessarily being newly introduced into the environment; improvement in chemical analytical methods has increased our ability to detect their occurrence in the environment. In most developed countries such as United States as well as countries in Europe, tremendous and alarming awareness on the effects of emerging contaminants on aquatic life has been showcased in the last decade. Headlines such as “Recycled tap water's 'unsettled question'; Waterborne drugs a growing concern (San Diego Union-Tribune- CA, 2006), “the drug, Prozac has been found in drinking water supplies” (BBC, 2004), “Hormonal chemicals may be imperilling fish” (The Seattle Times (WA), 2007), etc, are used as warning signs for public health officials and government agencies. The increase in the use of new chemicals in production of consumer products, cosmetics, fire retardants etc, has affected the characteristics of municipal waste generated from most urban communities. These waste are not effectively managed by conventional treatment processes, hence the potentially hazardous chemicals persist in the environment.

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