While information on the effects of long term low-dosage exposure of ECs and PPCPs on humans is still being collected, the effects on aquatic organisms and ecosystems has been observed, studied, and documented. A significant portion of these studies have focused on hormone disruption in aquatic organisms caused by exposure to trace organic compounds. An increase in the discovery of intersex organisms, i.e. fish having developed male and female reproductive organisms, has led scientists to question the environmental impact of low doses of hormones. The table below, taken from the Nov. 2008 AWWA Journal article “Emerging Compounds: A Concern for Water and Wastewater Utilities,” highlights some of the potential ecological effects of trace compounds found in wastewater effluent.
|Class of Compound||Typical Concentration in Effluent||Potential Ecological or Human Health Effects||Examples|
|Pharmaceuticals||Up to 1 µg/L||Endocrine disrupting||Antibiotics, painkillers, caffeine, birth-control pill, antiepileptics|
|Personal care products||Up to 1 µg/L||Bioaccumulative, endocrine disrupting||Soaps, fragrances, triclosan|
|Detergent metabolites||Up to 180 µg/L||Bioaccumulative, endocrine disrupting||Ocylphenol, nonylphenol|
|Plasticizers||Up to 10 µg/L||Weakly endocrine disrupting||Phthalate esters, bisphenol A|
|Perfluorooctane surfactants||Up to 1 µg/L||None at environmentally relevant concentrations||Stain-resistant coating for clothing and furnature|
|Brominated flame retardants||Up to 30 µg/L||Bioaccumulative, suspended endocrine disruptors||Polybrominated diphenyl ethers|
|Disinfection by-products||Up to 1 µg/L||Carcinogenic||N-nitrosodimethylamine|
Research on pharmaceuticals and personal care products explores interactions between chemicals and the environment, the impact of wastewater and drinking water treatment processes on PPCPs, exposure impacts on aquatic biota, landfill leachate concentrations of PPCPs, and much more. National studies of particular interest, or national studies that have taken data from a New England/New York site, are also listed. This list will be maintained and updated to help promote regional research coordination.
NEIWPCC’s 2011 Northeast Water Science Forum: Science to Inform Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Product Management, a two-day intensive technical conference, was held April 28 – 29, 2011 in Portland, Maine.
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