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30 March 2007 in Koblenz

Workshop “Emerging contaminants in the environment. Exposure, fate, effects, risk assessment and mitigation measures“

Treated wastewater represents a major point source for organic pollutants such as pharmaceuticals, flame retardants or the priority substances of the Water Framework Directive. There have been few studies in the past of the occurrence and biological activity of new emerging compounds such as pharmaceuticals or ingredients of personal care products (PPCPs), and their metabolites. After passing through a sewage treatment plant (STP) treated wastewater is mostly discharged into rivers and streams or sometimes applied to agricultural fields for irrigation. In the latter case, treated wastewater might infiltrate into groundwater and bank filtrates. If drinking water is produced using resources containing a substantial proportion of treated wastewater (e.g. contaminated groundwater, river water downstream of communities) the water cycle is closed and there is potential for indirect potable water reuse. If persistent pharmaceuticals and their metabolites are found in drinking water, this represents unintended indirect potable reuse.

Considering ecotoxicological and toxicological concerns, PPCPs are a challenge for urban water management since these mostly bio-active and polar compounds have a high probability to pass through traditional drinking water treatment barriers. In particular, there has been little work done on potential exposure of humans to metabolites of PPCPs that have biological activity.

The workshop demonstrates the results of a German-Canadian project in that field and provides a survey about the different perspectives in Canada and the EU.

Target audience: drinking water and wastewater engineers, environmental chemists, water managers, hydrogeologists, ecotoxicologists and toxicologists.

Contact: Dr. Thomas Ternes (

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