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For over 70 years, scientists have reported that certain synthetic and natural compounds could mimic natural hormones in the endocrine systems of animals. These substances are now collectively known as endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs) and have been implicated in variety of adverse effects in both humans and wildlife. More recently, pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) have been discovered in various surface and ground waters, some of which have been linked to ecological impacts at trace concentrations. The majority of EDCs and PPCPs are more polar than traditional contaminants and several have acidic or basic functional groups. These properties, coupled with occurrence at trace levels (i.e., < 1 μg/L), create unique challenges for both removal processes and analytical detection. Reports of EDCs and PPCPs in water have raised substantial concern among the public and regulatory agencies; however, very little is known about the fate of these compounds during drinking and wastewater treatment. Numerous studies have shown that conventional drinking and wastewater treatment plants do not completely remove many EDCs and PPCPs. Oxidation with chlorine and ozone can result in transformation of some compounds with reactive functional groups under the conditions employed in water and wastewater treatment plants. Advanced treatment technologies, such as activated carbon and reverse osmosis, appear viable for the removal of many trace contaminants including EDCs and PPCPs. Since modern analytical methods are capable detecting miniscule levels of contaminants, no treatment technology can truly removal all compounds to below detection. More research is needed to determine the levels of these contaminants that induce toxicological impacts in order to establish reasonable treatment goals.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2175/193864705783865569

Publication date: January 1, 2005

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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