Human health screening and public health significance of contaminants of emerging concern detected in public water supplies

Robert Benson, Octavia D. Conerly, William Sander, Angela L. Batt, J. Scott Boone, Edward T. Furlong, Susan T. Glassmeyer, Dana W. Kolpin, Heath E. Mash, Kathleen M. Schenck, Jane Ellen Simmons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The source water and treated drinking water from twenty five drinking water treatment plants (DWTPs) across the United States were sampled in 2010–2012. Samples were analyzed for 247 contaminants using 15 chemical and microbiological methods. Most of these contaminants are not regulated currently either in drinking water or in discharges to ambient water by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) or other U.S. regulatory agencies. This analysis shows that there is little public health concern for most of the contaminants detected in treated water from the 25 DWTPs participating in this study. For vanadium, the calculated Margin of Exposure (MOE) was less than the screening MOE in two DWTPs. For silicon, the calculated MOE was less than the screening MOE in one DWTP. Additional study, for example a national survey may be needed to determine the number of people ingesting vanadium and silicon above a level of concern. In addition, the concentrations of lithium found in treated water from several DWTPs are within the range previous research has suggested to have a human health effect. Additional investigation of this issue is necessary. Finally, new toxicological data suggest that exposure to manganese at levels in public water supplies may present a public health concern which will require a robust assessment of this information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1643-1648
Number of pages6
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Contaminants of emerging concern
  • Drinking water
  • Human health
  • Margin of Exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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