Mitigating the Effects of Emerging Water Pollutants Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

Contaminants in Drinking Water and Wastewater and Effects on Environment

Drinking water and wastewater contamination pose a significant threat to the public health sector. The contaminants affect the society in various ways, including causing diseases, developmental and growth problems. The causes of the problem are identifiable and can be managed by using the most applicable strategies. As such, necessities for the adoption of strategies that will help identify the contributing factors, results and adopt effective strategies that will prevent and reduce waterway pollution. Therefore, the research provides analysis on the effects, studies, and recommendations appropriate in reducing drinking water and wastewater contamination.


A number of chemicals play a significant role in influencing human activities of the daily living. They enable the development of new technologies and improve the standards and quality of life. Because of the widespread use of technology, chemicals enter the environment. Although, it is unintentional in most cases, some chemicals like pesticides are released deliberately into the environment. Water forms a major and significant means by which these chemicals reach the living organisms in the environment, which exert their effects upon consumption, or accumulate in the water bodies. Therefore, water carries the imprint of all the activities performed by human beings. The chemicals in the water can be either macro pollutants or micro-pollutants depending on the concentration of a chemical in the water body. Micro-pollutants and macro-pollutants have significant impacts on the environment, which varies depending on the concentration of the chemicals. The increasing amounts of pollutants have raised concerns among different agencies globally to embrace the adoption of strategies will help reduce the postulated consequences associated with the high levels of pollutants in the environment (Altaf, Masood, and Malik, 2008).

Structure of this research paper

This researcher analyzes in detail the different emerging wastewater and drinking water treatment. The analysis begins by discussing some of the emerging contaminants of wastewater and drinking water alongside their effects on health and the environment. The paper also analyzes the fate and the assessment of the emerging contaminants alongside providing an analysis of the different methods of treating contaminants of wastewater and drinking water. It ends by providing recommendations aiming at minimizing the contaminants and strengthening the treatment methods used for minimizing the contaminants in the society.

Emerging Contaminants

Emerging contaminants refer to the materials or chemicals in the water, air, soil, or river sediments at relatively low concentration. The contaminants are perceived as actual or potential threat to animals and the environment. They are referred as emerging contaminants as the new technologies detect them and/or have a new portal of entry into human beings and the environment. According to Richardson and Ternes (2005), emerging contaminants are classifiable into different classes, which include pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs), chemicals that disrupt the endocrine functioning (EDCs), and Nanomaterial. It also includes contaminants of emerging concerns (CECs), persistent organic pollutants (POPs), and Organic wastewater contaminants (OWCs) (Mitch et al. 2003).

Endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) interfere with the normal functioning of the endocrine systems of the mammals. The disruption results in conditions such as cancer, birth defects, and developmental disorders. Endocrine disruptors stimulate cell mutation that results in the formation of cancerous cells. The effects will present in forms of learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactive disorders, and deformities of body parts such as the limbs. Exposing animals to low level of the EDCs causes similar effects as those seen in the human beings. Organisms are exposed to the EDCs when they consume food products containing the compounds. Xenoesstrogens, alkyl phenols, and bisphenol -- A are some of the examples of the endocrine disrupting compounds (Richardson and Ternes, 2005). Persistent organic pollutants are organic compounds considered non-biodegradable through the action of biological, photolytic, and/or chemical processes. These pollutants persist in the environment and accumulate in the animal and human tissues, thereby, posing a significant threat to the human and animal health. Most of the POPs were used in the past as pesticides. Persistent organic pollutants disrupt the endocrine functioning as the EDCs Richardson (2003).

Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) and organic waste contaminants (OWCs) constitute active compounds passed through the body of human beings and transferred to water for drinking and wastewater. The conventional methods of treating water do not eliminate these compounds. Ultimately, these products gain access to the drinking water. The uses of the pharmaceutical and personal care products include cosmetic or personal health and agribusiness purposes. The compounds cause a significant environmental threat by promoting the emergence of bacteria resistant to antibiotics, which later combine with other chemicals in the environment resulting in the complex food chain (Focazio et al., 2008). Nanomaterials are minute particles in the environment, having a significant threat to the environment and the health of the animals. Nanomaterials affect the environment by causing changes in the hematologic functioning of the aquatic animals and its interaction with other pollutants results in the changes of the ecological balance. The change occurs due to the disruption of the normal flora and the functioning of the living organisms because of the enhanced toxic effects of the organic compounds (Peabody, Taguiwalo, and Robalino, 2006).

Fate of the emerging contaminants of the drinking water and wastewater

The fate of the contaminants of drinking water and wastewater varies depending on the source of the contamination. Empirical studies show that contaminants bind to different particles and compounds as they are transported to the sewage plants. Richardson (2003) explains that, the ability of a contaminant to remain unchanged in a treatment plant depends on the medium it attaches itself while under transportation to the plant. For example, he found that, particles such as those of sand and quartz retain and stops the release of the contaminants outside the treatment plan. This implies that, the absorption strength of a transporting medium determines the fate of a drinking water and wastewater contaminant. Srinivasa, Ramakrishna, and Govil (2010) added that, the nature of the lining of a treatment plant influences the rate of escape of wastes into the environment. The material used as the lining of the treatment plant form a barrier to transport of contaminants and its ultimate release to the atmosphere.

Biological degradation contributes to the elimination of wastewater and drinking water contaminants. A study conducted by Richardson and Ternes (2005) found that biological degradation contributes to the removal of pharmaceutical and personal care products in the wastewater treatment. Triclosan and tribocraban are some of the drinking water and wastewater contaminants eliminated by biological degradation. Mitch et al. (2003) added that aerobic reactions that occur during the loading of the contaminants contribute a larger percentage of the degradation of these products. However, it is appreciable that, not all the pharmaceutical and personal care products are eliminated from the treatment plant. According to Richardson and Ternes (2005), pharmaceutical products such as the beta-blockers exit the plant effluent without its removal. This contributes to the contaminants found in the drinking water and wastewater.

As stated by Srinivasa, Ramakrishna, and Govil (2010), the environmental fate of the contaminants of drinking water and wastewater depends on the physical and chemical characteristics of the media that transport the contaminant. Biodegradation plays a key role in eliminating the endocrine disrupting compounds as in the case of the pharmaceutical and personal products. Apart from this, volatilization contributes to the elimination of the endocrine disruptors and the pharmaceutical care products. Leaching into the ground water contributes to the elimination of some of the contaminants having low vaporization abilities. Atmospheric fate contributes to the elimination of the Nona toms, which occurs through a reaction between the particles of the contaminant with the hydroxyl radicals in the atmosphere (Richardson, 2009).

According to Richardson (2003), chlorination and reductive de-chlorination contributes to the fate of the organic waste contaminants. The fate of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) varies depending on the geographical location of a place. For example, the fate of POPs in the arctic regions is different from that of the desert environment. It is appreciable that, POPs are non-biodegradable in nature. As such, moving water transports the contaminant into different compartments of the earth system. It also carries the contaminant into remote regions that might be minimally proximal to animal access (Richardson and Ternes, 2005).

Assessing the emerging contaminants of wastewater and drinking water

Assessing the emerging contaminants of drinking water and wastewater takes into consideration the sources, effects and severity of the effects of contaminants to the environment, plants, and animals. The assessment aims at determining the amount of the contaminants released to the environment and the adoption of strategies that aim at minimizing the release and effects of the emerging contaminants. Petrovi?, Gonzalez, and Barcelo (2003) stated that, risk assessment of the emerging contaminants helps in the formulation of goals that help in protecting the public and the environment. Assessment enables the involve parties to determine the effectiveness of the planned goals for reducing the impacts of the emerging contaminants in the environment. Successful assessment of the emerging contaminants involves evaluating the occurrence…

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