To help utilities address this challenge, the Water Research
Foundation (WRF) recently published project #4457, Core
Messages for Chromium, Medicines and Personal Care Products,
NDMA, and VOCs (Macpherson et al. 2015). This project builds
on past research regarding consumer perceptions and attitudes,
communication approaches, and the general challenges of
A lesson learned from this research is that the term “contami-
nants of emerging concern” creates fear in consumers and thus
should be avoided. The same holds true for the term “unregulated.”
This and other recommendations and insights were used to pro-
duce a narrated animated film and develop core messages on
four priority substances: hexavalent chromium (Cr[VI]), NDMA,
It is challenging to remove many of these compounds
using traditional municipal wastewater treatment approaches.
Increasingly sophisticated analytical methods now allow the
detection of contaminants at sub-part per trillion (ppt) levels,
such that even the tiniest amounts of contaminants can be
detected, which leads to questions about their significance.
Communicating about these contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) in water is a challenge, due to the lack of existing
regulatory criteria and uncertainties regarding the potential
health effects of exposure to these compounds. Utilities must
design monitoring and treatment programs to address these
concerns and communicate effectively with the public regarding these issues.
Contaminants in Water
Increasing numbers of new industrial compounds and drugs means that the occurrence of unique pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) and endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) in waste streams will likely continue.