Emerging Contaminants

For more than 90 years, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) has met or exceeded federal and state safe drinking water standards. To assure our customers continue to get safe drinking water, WSSC and its partners in the industry have studied the issue of trace amounts of man-made chemicals, known as Emerging Contaminants (ECs) found in our drinking water.

Emerging contaminants are commonly described as chemicals or materials that have a real or perceived threat to human health or the environment. These contaminants include endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs), pharmaceutical drugs and personal care products (PPCPs).

Working with two regional partners and coordinating with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), WSSC collected samples from the Potomac and Patuxent rivers. Tests showed the presence of extremely small amounts of ECs in the area’s water supply. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) also recently analyzed samples drawn from the Potomac River and eight other selected U.S. rivers used as sources for public water systems. "Low level detection does not necessarily indicate a concern to human health, but rather indicates what types of chemicals we can expect to find in different areas of the country," said USGS lead scientist, Gregory Delzer. "Recent scientific advances have given USGS scientists the analytical tools to detect a variety of contaminants in the environment at low concentrations; often 100 to 1,000 times lower than drinking-water standards and other human-health benchmarks."

You can read more information on emerging contaminants and WSSC's efforts to ensure safe drinking water here.

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