Coping with Emerging Contaminants in Potable Water Sources

  • Heather E. GallEmail author
  • Odette Mina
Part of the The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry book series (HEC, volume 30)


Humans use a large variety of chemicals in their everyday lives including over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs, and personal care products. The chemicals that comprise these items enter wastewater treatment systems when they are manufactured by companies and used by consumers. Wastewater treatment plants have various removal efficiencies, causing these chemicals, generally referred to as “emerging contaminants,” to enter surface water bodies. In addition to human sources of emerging contaminants, veterinary pharmaceuticals and hormones are given to livestock raised in concentrated animal feeding operations. The land application of biosolids and animal waste to agricultural fields as a fertilizer source also introduces emerging contaminants into the environment. Recent advances in technology have allowed researchers to detect these compounds in water samples at significantly lower concentrations, thereby allowing researchers to assess the exposure of humans and aquatic species to concentrations at the parts-per-trillion level. This chapter provides an overview of the types of emerging contaminants found in potable water sources, their major sources, issues associated with their removal in treatment plants, and a social perspective of the public’s concerns regarding emerging contaminants in their potable water.


Pharmaceuticals Endocrine disrupting compounds Drinking water Wastewater treatment 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural and Biological EngineeringThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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