Micropollutants are chemical compounds occurring in concentrations of one part per billion and less that contaminate drinking water supplies throughout the U.S. and the world.
With recent advances in detection technologies, a new class
of pollutants has been identified in U.S. and worldwide
drinking water. These new contaminants are called
“micropollutants” because they exist in extremely low
concentrations.
Micropollutants consist of compounds used every day in
modern society including industrial chemicals, pesticides,
pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and
fluorocarbons. Discharged into drinking water through
industrial, municipal and agricultural wastestreams,
micropollutants now contaminate surface and
groundwaters everywhere.
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Per/Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)
A Toxic Threat to Communities.
Perfluorinated Compounds (PFASs) are a highly toxic class
of micropollutants harming water supplies in
communities across the country. PFOA (perfluorooctanoic
acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) are the most
prevalent PFAS compounds.
Pervasive. Elevated PFAS concentrations exist in drinking
water across the country, especially near industrial sites,
military airbases, and wastewater treatment plants.
Monitoring data indicates that the drinking water of up to
50 million Americans is likely contaminated by PFAS.
Highly Toxic. PFAS chemicals have been shown to cause
multiple cancers, thyroid disease and developmental
disorders at part per trillion concentrations. PFASs
accumulate and remain in the body for years. Blood levels
rise by 25% with every 10ppt increase in PFAS
concentration.
Pathways. PFAS exposure comes primarily from drinking water. Infants and newborns are
vulnerable to the effects of these chemicals, which are passed during pregnancy and through
breast milk.
Forced Closures. In May 2016, the U.S. EPA lowered its PFAS health advisory from 400 ppt to 70
ppt with many states adopting limits as low as 6 ppt. Over the past two years, several
communities have been forced to shut down drinking water sources due to harmful levels of
contamination.
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Most consumer water purification systems are not designed to remove hazardous micropollutants.
An Olympic-sized pool contains 660,253 gallons of water. Three drops of PFOS can make it unsafe.
PFOS bioaccumlates and is now found in the blood serum of 97% of the U.S. population.
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90% of consumed prescription drugs end up in waste water.
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They are Ubiquitous. Community water systems supply tap water to 85% of the U.S. population.  Local wells serve the remaining 15%.  Hundreds of micropollutants have been identified in both water sources.
The drinking water of over 100 million Americans contains micropollutants
5 things to know about micropollutants
Hard to Remove. At parts per trillion concentrations, many micropollutants easily pass through municipal drinking water treatment plants as well as consumer water filtration systems.
Harmful to Health. A growing number of contaminants, including the pesticides atrazine and chlorpyrifos, estrogens, bisphenol A (BPA), and perfluorinated compounds such as PFOA and PFOS, are linked to cancer, brain and nervous system damage, developmental defects, fertility problems and endocrine disorders.
Broad Range. Micropollutants found in drinking water include pesticides, pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals, fluorocarbons, solvents, and substances used in personal care products.
Highly Toxic. Many water quality limits are expressed in parts per trillion. One part per trillion is equivalent to a single drop of food coloring in 18 million gallons of water.  The EPA advisory limit for the micropollutants PFOA or PFOS is 70 parts per trillion. This means that only one drop of either substance will make over 250,000 gallons of water unsafe for consumption.
Micropollutants
Invisible compounds that contaminate our drinking water.
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