DENVER — Jan. 5, 2016 — The Water Research Foundation (WRF) launched a project aimed at helping water and wastewater utilities address contaminants entering the water supply from hospital discharges, according to a press release.

The research project, awarded to American Water, will seek to improve understanding of current practices to reduce the loading of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) being discharged from hospitals and other healthcare facilities, stated the release. Researchers will investigate the current regulations and discharge practices for hazardous materials in the health care industry in order to help formulate feasible actions to limit the amount of CECs entering the water system due to modern health care practices.

In addition to chemical contaminants, the project will also investigate microbial contaminants discharged from hospitals, WRF said in the release.

“Protecting the sources of our wastewater and drinking water by reducing chemical and microbial exposure is imperative to ensuring both public health and the safety of the environment,” commented Rob Renner, executive director of WRF, in the release. “This research into preventing CECs from entering our waterways will enable collaboration between water utilities, healthcare practitioners and other stakeholders.”

Read also: Contaminant of the Month: Medical wastes

Previous research has shown that hospital discharges are a source of CECs in wastewater, according to WRF in the release. Many of these chemicals, such as chemotherapy drugs and iodinated contrast agents used in x-rays and CT scans, can be resistant to standard wastewater treatment.

The new project will help identify what needs to be done to prevent CECs from entering wastewater and drinking water sources and ensure the safety and quality of water throughout the United States, noted the release.

You can find the entire release here.