BIRMINGHAM — In Water Technology’s March article, “CCL update: What dealers need to know,” Assistant Editor Maria Woodie writes about how being aware of emerging contaminants (ECs) may give water treatment professionals an edge over the competition.

Every five years in accordance with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SWDA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publishes a Contaminant Candidate List (CCL), which includes substances not currently regulated in drinking water, but they may be in the future. EPA bases this list on scientific knowledge about the effects of ECs on humans and the environment.

EPA’s CCL 4 is currently under review, and a draft was recently released in February, which according to EPA’s “Fact Sheet: Drinking Water Contaminant Candidate List 4 – Draft,” includes “100 chemicals or chemical groups and 12 microbial contaminants that are known or anticipated to occur in public water systems. The list includes, among others, chemicals used in commerce, pesticides, biological toxins, disinfection byproducts, pharmaceuticals and waterborne pathogens.”

A few contaminants listed in the CCL 4 draft as reported in the EPA fact sheet include:

  • Cyanotoxins: Toxins produced by cyanobacteria, commonly referred to as blue-green algae
  • 1,4 Dioxane: Used as a solvent or solvent stabilizer in the manufacturing and processing of various commercial products
  • Acetochlor: A herbicide
  • Chlorate: Used in agriculture as desiccants and defoliants; may appear in water due to the use of disinfectants
  • Equilin: An estrogenic hormone
  • Germanium: A naturally-occurring element, sometimes sold as a dietary supplement
  • Manganese: A naturally-occurring element used in several applications and can be found in vitamin/mineral supplements and fortified foods.

Since the actual effects of the contaminants listed in CCLs still need to be determined, the exact health risks, if any, are uncertain. However, according to Sam Karge, vice president of Pentair Water Purification, a division of Pentair, water dealers must be aware of CCLs, despite the potential lack of health risks. Consumers, explains Karge in the article, may hear about EC’s and other contaminants through media outlets, friends and family, etc., and without proper education, consumers might start to wonder if their water is safe.

In the article, Karge continues that though there may not be any real health risks in the short and/or long term, the fact that a contaminant is measureable may give an end user concern.

“As we all know as an industry, what the consumer wants and what [he or she is] concerned about is what we need to give answers to; whether it actually has a net effect on [his or her] body or not, that’s debatable,” says Karge in the articles. “The fact of the matter is we are, as an industry of water professionals, here to develop products and invoke products that allay the consumer's fears. And if we can’t address that and say that we have technology that removes ‘xyz’ from the water using reverse osmosis, or carbon filtration, or ion exchange or another method, consumers are going to go out and try to find an alternative.”

Read the entire March feature on CCL 4 here.

Stay tuned for the upcoming April issue of Water Technology where Technical Editor Dr. Joseph Cotruvo offers an in-depth look at EPA’s proposed CCL 4 in Professor POU/POE, and how he believes the regulation process could be improved.