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Levels of Trace Pharmaceuticals in Drinking Water Too Low to Impact Human Health According to Water Research Foundation Study
Date:3/4/2009

contaminants," said study researcher Shane Snyder, Ph.D., research and development project manager for Southern Nevada Water Authority. "Therefore, it's vital that we look at the real risks before we spend a tremendous amount of resources on the issue."

The study's objective was to inform water utilities, regulators, scientists, and the public about the occurrence and potential human health relevance of pharmaceuticals and EDCs in drinking water.

Research Methods and Selected Findings:
The Water Research Foundation research team first selected 62 representative chemicals for further evaluation. The selection criteria included likelihood of occurrence, production volume, toxicity, and analytical capability. The scientists drew 300 water samples from 19 sites nationwide and analyzed them for the selected suite of compounds using extremely sensitive analytical methods with low part-per-trillion detection limits. The team conducted risk evaluations assuming exposure through drinking water for all target pharmaceuticals, 10 of the suspected EDCs, and three of the hormones. Acceptable daily intakes (ADIs) were calculated using methods consistent with Environmental Protection Agency approaches for determining levels of exposure to environmental contaminants that are not likely to be associated with adverse health effects. To estimate the exposure of these compounds via drinking water, the ADIs were then converted to drinking water equivalent levels.

Key conclusions reported include the following:

  • Of the 62 compounds analyzed, only three were consistently (>50 percent frequency) found in the water samples
  • Trace concentrations of 24 compounds were detectable in at least 20 percent of raw (untreated) water samples
  • Trace concentrations of 11 compounds were found in at least 20 percent of f
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