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DRBC’s Leading Research on Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) Presented at Delaware Water Resources Conference

On September 8, 2014, DRBC Environmental Toxicologist Ron MacGillivray, Ph.D. participated in an informative roundtable panel discussion hosted by the Delaware Section of the American Water Resources Association (DE-AWRA). Geared for DE-AWRA members and themed "Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) in Water," the roundtable was held at Artesian Water Company in Newark, Del. Dr. MacGillivray presented on his research investigating the presence of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) in the Delaware River Basin.

CECs are chemicals that have entered the environment through human activities. They have been detected in humans or other living organisms and have been found to persist in the environment, but are not routinely monitored for and are currently unregulated. Examples include PPCPs, stain repellents and fire-fighting foams (PFASs), flame retardants (PBDEs), and hormones. Although most of these compounds have been detected in surface waters at very low concentrations, there is concern about how CECs impact drinking water quality and the river's ecology. Increased interest in these substances and their toxic effects by scientists, the public, and regulators is occurring due to improved analytical methods and a growing body of information on their adverse effects.

A leader in water quality initiatives in the basin, DRBC recognized years ago the need to understand the sources, source pathways, persistence, and fate of CECs, as well as how they degrade in surface water. In 2009, DRBC completed a three-year pilot study that investigated the presence and concentration of PPCPs, PFASs, and PBDEs in the ambient waters of the tidal Delaware River. More recently, DRBC received a grant to partner with Temple University on a survey to study CECs in several Pennsylvania tributaries to the tidal Delaware River. Tributaries surveyed included the Neshaminy, Perkiomen, and Wissahickon creeks and the Schuylkill River. Funded by the Pennsylvania Water Resources Research Center and Pennsylvania Sea Grant, this survey began in March 2013 and was completed in March 2014. A final report is in preparation.

For additional details regarding the DE-AWRA roundtable, including links to Dr. MacGillivray's presentation and those of several other panelists, please visit http://www.deawra.org/event-1731510.