Contaminants of Emerging Concern– a challenge for waste water reuse?

Convenor(s):
Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, Germany

The growing demand for water, especially in agriculture, puts growing pressure to use unconventional water resources, like the reuse of treated waste water in irrigation. At the same time population growth and expectations for improved living standards put more demand on daily-life products containing Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs). CECs have gained increasing attention for being hazardous to public health and the environment, which may compromise efforts for water quality. This group of contaminants includes pharmaceuticals and personal care products, synthetic hormones, nanoparticles and industrial compounds but also natural compounds like natural hormones, antibiotics, etc.. Their effect on public health and the ecosystem on which we depend for safe water, soil, and food is not fully understood yet and thresholds or environmental and quality standards have not been defined. Nevertheless it is relevant to reach SDG 6.3., but monitoring is a challenge. The production of new chemicals exceeds the capacity of current safety monitoring and risk assessment technologies. Although the concentrations of CEC in natural water resources lay still in a fairly low range, these compounds imply already a great challenge for water managers and raise concerns for a save application of waste water for irrigation.

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