PPCPs and EDCs in Drinking Water - Contaminants of Emerging Concern

PPCPs and EDCs in Drinking Water - Contaminants of Emerging Concern

Emerging contaminants have now turned into a trendy and large research platform. The substantial number of emerging contaminants represents a test for regulatory agencies. This group of pollutants is ideally named "contaminants of emerging concern."

An established point of view is given on advancing the issues encompassing emerging contaminants and how environmental researchers have handled this issue. This starts with worldwide lead contamination from the Romans two centuries back, proceeds onward to arsenic-based and DDT issues, and recently to pharmaceuticals, nanoparticles, personal care products, fire retardants, and so on.

Contaminants of emerging concern will remain a moving focus as new chemical compounds are constantly being created, and science persistently enhances its understanding of current and past contaminants.

Understanding CEC

Contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) pertain to any compound found in water or in a condition that had not beforehand been detected or was just present at inconsiderable levels. CECs can go from pharmaceuticals and Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) utilized in numerous mechanical procedures.

CECs is the general term covering a wide class of various sorts of chemical compounds, involving:

  • Disinfection by-products (DBPs)

  • Endocrine Disrupting Compounds (EDCs)

  • Industrial Chemicals

  • Natural Toxin Analysis

  • Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)

  • Pesticide Analysis

  • Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs)

But let's delve further into Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) and endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs).

PPCPs and EDCs in Drinking Water

PPCPs and EDCs in Drinking Water - Contaminants of Emerging Concern

Some traces of endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs), pharmaceuticals, and personal care products (PPCPs) have been found in drinking water for over 30 years. These compounds are getting more consideration from established researchers, regulatory agencies, and people in general on the loose.

Present-day, progressive countries use an extravagant number of chemicals for varied reasons. A portion of these chemicals is utilized to avert and treat the ailment, lessen discomfort from pain or medical procedure, treat mental health issues, and groom, hygiene, and cosmetic reasons. Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products, or PPCPs, these items incorporate solution and over-the-counter meds, beautifying agents, scents, face and body washes, lotions, bug repellants, and sunscreens.

To add to PPCPs are endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs). The endocrine system is a complex system of organs including the pituitary, thyroid, pancreas, adrenal, thymus, and reproductive organs that discharge the exact number of hormones into the circulatory system with the end goal to direct basic natural capacities in people and animals, for instance, development, improvement, reproduction, and digestion. EDCs are any external characteristic or chemicals able of intruding with the body's endocrine system by disrupting the union, discharge, transport, bonding, or disposal of important common hormones.


PPCPs and EDCs access our waterways through leachate from landfills and septic systems, sewage, flushing of unused meds, and agricultural runoff, and they can cause a heap of issues. While there has not yet been a huge amount of research on these products and chemicals, a few certainties are known. For instance, excessive anti-toxin use has prompted the advancement of "superbugs" or microscopic organisms, like MRSA, that are antibiotic-resistant. Methadone retaliates with chloramine, and a chemical used to treat drinking water, to produce N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a known cancer-causing agent. EDCs intervene with the endocrine system, conceivably causing reproductive, formative, neurological, and immunologic issues in wildlife and among people.

The absolute most common EDCs in drinking water incorporate estrogen and progesterone from birth control medication pills and anabolic steroids. These mixes intervene with the reproductive abilities of aquatic wildlife. One case incorporates eggshell diminishing and eventual reproductive deficiency of waterfowl; the lessened population of Baltic seals because of lower fertility and risk of miscarriage; improvement of male reproductive organs in female marine creatures, like, snails; feminization and the eventually reduced population of particular sorts of fish, including bass; and decreased or deformed frog populations.


Most regular water treatment systems are not particularly designed or ready to expel PPCPs from drinking water. Yet, relying upon the particular chemical class of the contaminant, there is a scope of treatment approaches that have demonstrated the power to expel PPCPs or decrease their concentration. Such approaches include:

  • Reverse osmosis

  • Nanofiltration

  • Ultraviolet (UV) treatments

  • Activated carbon

  • Ozone/advanced oxidation processes

  • Biological Wastewater Treatment Systems

As indicated by a few researchers, various individual water treatment strategies have shown high levels of accomplishment in expelling PPCPs in a few groupings, as follows:

  • More than 90 percent of steroids can be expelled from drinking water utilizing actuated slime, initiated carbon, biologically enacted carbon, ozone/propelled oxidation processes, UV treatments, and reverse osmosis.

  • More than 90 percent of anti-toxins, antidepressants, and antimicrobials can be expelled utilizing enacted carbon, biologically initiated carbon, nanofiltration, and reverse osmosis.

  • More than 90 percent of anti-inflammatories can be expelled utilizing actuated carbon, biologically initiated carbon, ozone/propelled oxidation processes, UV treatments, nanofiltration, and reverse osmosis.

  • More than 90 percent of lipid controllers can be expelled utilizing initiated carbon, biologically enacted carbon, ozone/propelled oxidation processes, nanofiltration, and reverse osmosis.

  • Under 40 percent of recorded PPCPs can be expelled through coagulation/flocculation and softening/metal oxides.

The EPA's Office of Water keeps up a stock of scientific investigations and writing on the treatment of CECs, which incorporates modified works of more than 400 records accessible through the U.S. National Library of Medicine and different sources. The EPA's 2010 report, "Treating Contaminants of Emerging Concern," offers a thorough review of the efficiency of different treatment approaches dependent on collected information from a subset of the EPA's research document archive.


PPCPs and EDCs in Drinking Water - Contaminants of Emerging Concern


As approved under the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the EPA sets drinking water benchmarks to control contaminants in public drinking water supply and now has drinking water directions for more than 90 different contaminants. To decide if a contaminant ought to be controlled, the EPA investigates peer-checked science tending to various factors, including the event levels of a contaminant in the earth, courses of human exposure, and the well-being impacts of exposure especially the consequences for vulnerable subpopulations.

The way that contaminants are identified in trace amounts does not only suggest hazards to people. Critical research is as yet expected to understand both the extent of the issue and its suggestions for our public drinking water supply. The EPA has a few research endeavors presently in progress to reinforce the science for understanding the conduct of PPCPs in drinking water, including research, techniques improvement, and occurrence studies. Information from this exploration will help the organization decide if regulation about sufficient concentrations of PPCPs in drinking water and the testing of public drinking water systems ought to be considered, even without health-based guidelines.

As a feature of its progressing examination to decide the event of contaminants of developing concern, the EPA has newly proposed the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 3). UCMR 3 will need all public water systems serving more than 10,000 individuals and additionally an agent test of the 800 systems serving 10,000 or fewer individuals to lead evaluation checking for the appearance of 28 different chemicals within a year. The standard will need public water systems (PWS) to lead this event observing from January 2013 through December 2015. Incorporated into UCMR 3 are various hormones, including equilin and eastern (utilized in estrogen substitution treatments) and testosterone. Even though these substances are not presently controlled by national primary drinking water directions, the EPA will utilize the information from this and earlier UCMR evaluation stages to decide if advance directions are in light of a legitimate concern for general wellbeing.

The presence of PPCPs and other rising contaminants in drinking water is certifiably not another issue, and important research is as yet required to know both the extent of the issue and its suggestions for the wellbeing of people in the public drinking water supply. Yet, progressions in diagnostic technologies presently make it conceivable to investigate a more extensive scope of contaminants in drinking water with more important sensitivity and specificity than before.

How Can You Help Reduce and Prevent PPCs and EDCs in the Environment


PPCPs and EDCs in Drinking Water - Contaminants of Emerging Concern

You can act now to keep your exposure to a portion of the PPCs and EDCs surrounding us and step toward making the world more secure for all.

On an individual level, taking little, basic advances can largely affect the number of PPCPs and EDCs in our water supply:

  • Inquire on your health care supplier to prescribe close to the adequate, powerful amount of medicine, or consider a preliminary prescription before filling the full 30-to 90-day supply;

  • Purchase OTC drugs in little enough amounts that can be utilized before the end date;

  • Return every unused medicine to pharmaceutical reclaim programs that enable the public to convey unused medications to a central area for suitable disposal;

  • If a community reclaim area is inaccessible, evacuate unused or expired doctor-prescribed meds from their original containers and toss them in the junk – never flush! To discourage abuse of particular sorts of harmful drugs, like, narcotics, smash the pills and blend them with old bacon oil or other food wastes.

  • Please find out about common PPCPs and EDCs and where they're found. You may see that old toy and cherished fire-resistant loveseat in another light. In present-day items, "non-stick" or "stain-safe" may raise a warning for your further research.

  • Read the labels. On plastic bottles, a #1, #2, or #4 in the reusing sign implies that the item is free of BPA, a still ordinarily utilized EDC. Shower raincoats, curtains, flooring, and outdoor furniture will be correspondingly marked for PVCs, as well as canned food with BPA liners. Labels for cleaning supplies, facial washes, and cleansers likewise show the presence or lack of some EDCs known to be a potential hazard, like, phthalates.

  • Check out for leaching. Abstain from storing canned or plastic-bundled foods in hot areas, similar to the storage compartment of an auto on a late spring day. Likewise, abstain from microwaving or warming foods in plastic holders. EDCs could drain out of the holder and into your food and body.

  • Keep the produce fresh. Limit consumption of processed foods but as much as possible use filtered and not bottled water.

  • Decrease pesticide use. At home, attempt strategies like plugging holes under the sink to diminish pests and keep the call for pesticides. For produce, wash fresh products of the soil with tap water to expel generally synthetic substances.

  • Gain more from different groups. The Environmental Working Group has vital guidance for decreasing your exposure to PPCPs and EDCs. The Pediatric Environmental Health Toolkit is valuable for all parents and healthcare suppliers.

The Impact of PPCPs in Drinking Water

PPCPs in Water

In contemporary times, there are no scientifically proven effects of PPCPs in drinking water —specifically, human health effects. Still, the prevalence of PPCP in drinking water remains to be a fundamental concern among people. Apart from environmental contamination, PPCPs in the environment can also generate a lot of other negative effects. In a specific instance, pharmaceutical drugs can induce a number of biological effects in the environment. This is due to their cellular-level receptors at low concentrations which generate negative effects, upon interaction, with non receptor targets which do not have the same concentration. To expound better, there are certain strains of bacteria that when exposed to antibiotics, become highly resistant to those antibiotics. Needless to say, strains of drug-resistant bacteria are very dangerous not just to the environment, but also to human health.

A specific kind of PPCP like steroid hormones, which include estrone, progesterone, and testosterone, and fragrance additives like galactoside, are studied to have endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs). By definition, EDCs synthetic chemicals that have the capacity to block certain hormonal processes or mimic the movement of natural hormones in the body. As such, it can disrupt the function of the body's organ system and harm overall human health. In fact, even if the EDCs are in significantly low concentrations, they can still pose serious threats to the human endocrine system. In line with that, when the endocrine system gets damaged, it may also generate a domino on reproductive effects.

Given all the adverse effects that PPCP in water may bring about, it should be well noted that PPCPs in water should be treated properly. Furthermore, PPCPs can also pose negative effects on aquatic life. In fact, PPCP water contamination may affect aquatic animals more than human life. This is because fish and other aquatic organisms have a higher tendency to receive continual exposure to PPCP concentrations at an especially higher concentration than those found in treated water. To add, aquatic organisms need specific aquatic life criteria in order for them to survive. The emerging contaminants are not really conducive to this set of criteria. Ultimately, prolonged multi-generational exposure may lead to serious effects —both in human health and aquatic life— that may be irreversible at some point if we don't take action now.

Proper Disposal of PPCPS

Proper Disposal of PPCPs

There are a variety of ways to dispose of PPCPs without risking the incident of water contamination. First of all, do not ever flush PPCPS down the toilet or drain. You can only do there is a specific set of instructions that tell you to do so. If you are not too sure about that, visit the U.S. Food and Drugs Administration to know about the proper disposal of that drugs.

Drop-off Sites

By all means, you may simply take the prescription drugs to drop-off sites. You can contact your city or county government’s household trash and recycling service to ask for access to the disposal sites or if there is any drug take-back program available within the area. This will help lessen the risk of environmental contamination.


You can buy prepaid envelopes for mail-in return at the drug store. Take note, this is not your ordinary envelope. There are specific envelopes that are designed to carry off PPCPs disposal. Just ask the pharmacist or drug specialist in charge.

At home

The RI Department of Health and the RI Department of Environmental Management has released a set of pre-approved methodologies and techniques for the proper disposal of drugs at home. This is in the consolidation of environmental health perspectives to avoid the risk of environmental contaminants.

The following steps are enumerated below:

First of all, take the prescription or over-the-counter drugs out of their perfectly sealed container. Next, mash and crush the tablets or pills. While fluids, gels, ointments, or other creams can be segregated together with cat litter or used coffee beans. After which, place the drugs not in an expendable compartment with a secured lid, or otherwise, place them instead into a sealable plastic pack.

To go further, remove any private data such as the Rx number on the empty containers by scribbling it with a black permanent marker or by simply stripping the sticker off. And then, you need to place the sealed container or plastic bag in the garbage. Finally, put the empty drug containers in the recycling bin to avoid them from messing up with any sources of water.

To Sum it Up

The issue of PPCPs and EDCs in drinking water does not seem, by all accounts, to be leaving at any point shortly. With the end goal to ease harm caused to both people and the earth, additional research and focus must be set on these chemicals. It is basic that we actualized additional regulations, build creative and savvy treatment technologies, additional financing to boost infrastructure and lessen our contribution of PPCPs and EDCs to nature.

Applicable regulations overseeing disposal run-over at point sources of risks, comprehensive reclaim programs, guidance, and upgraded consumer training will bolster endeavors for the correct disposal of unwanted and extra medications and lessen the ecological effect of pharmaceuticals entering our condition, including water sources.

As most pharmaceuticals enter the water cycle through wastewater discharges or from ineffectively controlled production or manufacturing facilities that are essentially connected with generic drugs, the discharge of untreated or inadequately treated wastewater to bodies of water utilized as drinking-water sources ought to be firmly disheartened.

Our Black Berkey purification elements filter out numerous pharmaceutical drugs and endocrine-disruptors (EDCs), such as BPA, Naproxin, Octylphenol, Progesterone, THM’s, and many more. Please click here to view some of our most recent test results, specifically about EDCs and pharmaceutical drug contaminants that could be found in your water.

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