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Water Science & Technology Vol 55 No 12 pp 327–332 © IWA Publishing 2007 doi:10.2166/wst.2007.428

The occurrence of micopollutants in the aquatic environment: a new challenge for water management

T. Ternes

Federal Institute of Hydrology (BFG), Am Mainzer Tor 1, 56068, Koblenz, Germany (E-mail: ternes@bafg.de)


The occurrence of micropollutants in the aquatic environment has become a crucial topic in the last two decades owing to the innovative development of analytical instrumentation such as LC tandem MS. Using these new techniques it became obvious that pesticides, pharmaceuticals, ingredients of personal care products, biocides, flame retardants, and perfluorinated compounds are entering rivers and streams via treated wastewater. Also contamination of bank filtrates, groundwater and in a few cases even drinking water was identified. Wastewater treatment plants are not designed to remove polar persistent organic pollutants occurring in the sub-mg/L range and hence many of these organic pollutants are passing WWTPs to a high extent. Waterworks with a potential pesticide contamination in their raw water are equipped with advanced techniques such ozonation, activated carbon or nanofiltration enabling the removal of a high variety of other organic compounds. However, waterworks without an expected pesticide contamination are frequently equipped with common treatment processes not enabling the removal of these kinds of organic pollutants. Therefore, comprehensive management activities for protection of aquatic environments and water resources must consider the removal of all micropollutants relevant to water quality and ecology, independent of their usage or origin.

Keywords: Emerging pollutants; ozonation; personal care products; pharmaceuticals; wastewater drinking water treatment

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