BIRMINGHAM — In Water Technology’s December article, “Solutions for CECs,” Assistant Editor Maria Woodie writes about how ample knowledge of emerging contaminants (ECS) can boost sales and spread customer awareness.

Advancements in technologies like analytical testing methods are resulting in more and more emerging contaminants (ECs) to be discovered in drinking water sources that previously have not, or could not, be detected before.

Analytical testing can now almost routinely detect contaminants, such as chemicals, at parts per trillion (ppt). As testing advances over time, these levels will become even lower, uncovering even more ECs.

However, although these advancements in technologies supply us with the ability to discover more potential threats to our water sources, there are also a few disadvantages to these technological developments.

The more contaminants revealed, the more research is needed to ensure optimal water quality — and more research equates to more expenses; and with many of the contaminants observed for Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rules (UCMRs) being detected at perhaps insignificant frequencies and concentrations relating to possible heath/environmental risks, some of those expenses are ultimately unproductive.

In the article, Technical Editor Dr. Joseph Cotruvo weighs in on the subject. “It is just one of those things were technology is leaping well beyond our ability to actually understand the consequences of what is being found,” explains Cotruvo. “And, it does focus a lot of interest on drinking water as a result, but probably often misdirected interest.”

A balancing act between the advancements in technologies and EC research is needed. The investigation of potential harmful contaminants being discovered as the outcome of these cutting-edge analytical testing methods helps ensure an optimal quality of water. Yet, to help safeguard against wasted expenses, those testing the water for ECs need to keep in mind the related costs of research and water treatment and carefully determine if there is an actual likelihood of these contaminants to produce health risks.

Innovations in water technologies, especially advancements in analytical testing — despite the possibility of unproductive expenses — not only help pave the way to safe, high quality drinking water, but also can have an indirect effect on source water supplies, leading to additional wastewater/discharge restrictions.

“Some of those contaminants are coming from the source water,” informs Cotruvo in the article. “Those contaminants are coming from the rivers via industrial discharges or runoff from the land. So there is kind of a backup effect that occurs that may also lead to more restrictions on wastewater discharge quality and more pretreatment regulations from industrial dischargers.”

Read the entire December feature on ECs here.