NEWS ALERT SERVICE!
STUDY OF PHARMACEUTICALS & OTHER ORGANIC SUBSTANCES
IN US SURFACE WATERS PUBLISHED
part of its ongoing reconnaissance program of US waters,
USGS sampled 139 streams in 30 states during
1999-2000 for what it calls OWCs (organic wastewater
constituents) using new analytical methods for 95
compounds. The OWCs, which include many
pharmaceuticals and hormones commonly used in agriculture,
industry and households, were found in 80% of the
streams sampled. Generally low levels were detected that did not
exceed any health advisories but such guidelines are not
available for many compounds. The complete
USGS report is available and the
March 13 issue of Environmental Science and Technology (see "Hot Article" box at top of page)
features a paper which emphasizes the analytical
methodology used in the study. The study received
wide attention in the print media with headlines such as
Aids Contaminating Waterways (LA Times, March 13)
Wastes Pollute Waterways (Washington Post, March 13).
study will add fuel to the ongoing
activity of USEPA to develop an overall program to
address these chemicals and other endocrine disruptors.
The USEPA effort was mandated by the 1996 Food Quality
Protection Act and was reinforced by a provision in the
1996 SDWA Amendments which gave EPA authority to provide
for the testing, under the FFDCA Screening Program,
"of any other substance that may be found in
sources of drinking water if the Administrator
determines that a substantial population may be exposed
to such substance." (42 U.S.C. 300j-17)
conducted a second phase of the reconnaissance study
with a total of 76 drinking water source waters sampled
including 51 surface waters and 25 groundwater sources.
A report on that second phase has not yet been published.