Research has shown that EDCs and
PPCPs enter the water supply primarily
through agricultural runoff and wastewater
treatment plant effluent.
Yet there’s much we don’t know.
It’s not clear if the range and concentration
of EDCs and PPCPs is increasing.
That’s because new detection technology
makes historic comparisons impossible.
Tests have grown far more sensitive in
the past decade, so that scientists can
detect compounds in parts-per-trillion,
or less than one-eighth of a teaspoon
of compound in an Olympic-sized
swimming pool of water. Concentrations
that were undetectable just 10 years ago
are now routinely observed.
These ultra-sensitive tests bring us to the
leading edge of science. At the same time,
they make it complicated to communicate
about the risk of EDCs and PPCPs in
drinking water, challenging us to balance
the appearance of a problem with its
Through the Public’s Eyes
Because of the many unknowns, the federal
government doesn’t require water suppliers
to test drinking water for EDCs and PPCPs
and hasn’t set safety limits.
“Yet in the absence of regulations or
sufficient knowledge regarding human
health impacts, what is at stake for utilities
is public perception,” said Alice Fulmer,
senior project manager at the Foundation.
And that’s no small matter. Public distrust
can lead to more in-home treatment
devices and use of bottled water, as well
as resistance to necessary and appropriate
utility infrastructure investments and rate
increases, with long-term impacts on water
suppliers and the environment.
That’s why we funded several studies to
examine the toxicological relevance and state
of the knowledge about EDCs and PPCPs.
We don’t directly study the human or
animal impact of compounds, but we
have combed existing literature for
information on their health impacts.
We have also tested water around the
country to find the most commonly
occurring compounds, as well as those
occurring in the greatest concentrations.
In a 2007 study, we found trace
concentrations of 11 compounds in finished
drinking water, with at least one compound
detected in 20 percent of the samples tested.
Atrazine, the herbicide now under scrutiny
by the USEPA, occurred at the highest
concentration. According to health studies
Key Foundation Reports on EDCs and Pharmaceuticals
Removal of EDCs and Pharmaceuticals in Drinking and Reuse Treatment
Processes (project# 2758/order #91188)
State of Knowledge of Endocrine Disruptors and Pharmaceuticals in Drinking
Water (project# 3033/order #91228)
Toxicological Relevance of Endocrine Disruptors and Pharmaceuticals in
Drinking Water (project# 3085/order #91238)