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Environmental Health - Toxic Substances

Investigations - Contaminants of Emerging Concern in the Environment

National Source-Water Reconnaissance

During 2001, a network of 25 ground-water and 49 surface-water sources of public drinking water supply in 25 states and Puerto Rico were sampled and analyzed for 124 emerging contaminants. This study represents the first nationwide reconnaissance of emerging contaminants in untreated sources of public drinking water supplies in the United States and is part of a continuing effort to collect baseline occurrence information on emerging contaminants in the Nation’s water resources. Populations served by the public water systems sampled range from about 1,000 to 8 million people and all samples were collected prior to water treatment (e.g. at the well head, surface-water intakes, or other raw-water sampling ports). At least one emerging contaminant (including some naturally occurring compounds such as plant and animal steroids) was detected in about 96% of the samples. The targeted emerging contaminants were more frequently detected in surface-water than ground-water sources.

Map of the United States with ground and surface water locations

Available Publications

Focazio, M.J., Kolpin, D.W., Barnes, K.K., Furlong, E.T., Meyer, M.T., Zaugg, S.D., Barber, L.B., and Thurman, E.M., 2008, A national reconnaissance of pharmaceuticals and other organic wastewater contaminants in the United States--II. Untreated drinking water sources: Science of the Total Environment, v. 402, no. 2-3, p. 201-216, doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2008.02.021.

Focazio, M.J., Kolpin, D.W., and Buxton, H., 2003, Pharmaceuticals, hormones, personal-care products, and other organic wastewater contaminants in water resources -- recent research activities of the U.S. Geological Survey's Toxic Substances Hydrology Program: GeoHealth News, v. 2, no. 1, September 2003, p. 3-7.

Focazio, M.J., Kolpin, D.W., Furlong, E.T., 2004, Occurrence of human pharmaceuticals in water resources in the United States--A review:., in Kummerer, K., ed., Pharmaceuticals in the environment--Sources, fate, effects, and risks, 2nd Edition, Springer-Verlag, pp. 91-102.

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