Safe Drinking Water? Effect of Wastewater Inputs and Source Water Impairment and Implications for Water Reuse

  • Susan D. RichardsonEmail author
  • Cristina Postigo
Part of the The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry book series (HEC, volume 44)


The elimination of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) during conventional wastewater treatment is not complete, and therefore, different amounts of these compounds are continuously released via wastewater effluents into the aquatic environment. This constitutes a major issue for water reuse, because these compounds can undergo transformation in the environment or during disinfection if reclaimed water is used for drinking water production. Different emerging contaminants, e.g., perfluorinated compounds, pharmaceuticals, antibacterials, plasticizers, and preservatives, and transformation products, which are in some cases more toxic than original compounds, have been occasionally found in finished drinking waters. The present chapter reviews the CECs detected in drinking water and the disinfection by-products generated by different CECs present in the aquatic environment. Moreover, the potential toxicologic effects that these pollutants and their transformation products pose for human health are also reviewed. Levels of these compounds in treated waters, and therefore exposure, could be reduced by the use of advanced removal technologies.


Chlorination Contaminants of emerging concern DBPs De facto reuse Disinfection by-products Drinking water Water reuse 





Bisphenol A


Contaminant candidate list


Contaminants of emerging concern


Disinfection by-product




Dissolved organic carbon




Half maximal effective concentration




17α-Ethinyl estradiol


European Food Safety Authority


Environmental Protection Agency


Glutathione S-transferase theta-1


Glutathione S-transferase zeta-1


Groundwater Replenishment System


Haloacetic acid


Low density polyethylene


Lowest observed effect concentration






3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine or Ecstasy




Methyl tert-butyl ether


Mutagen X (3-chloro-4-(dichloromethyl)-5-hydroxy-2(5H)-furanone)


Nitrogen containing disinfection by-products






Polyethylene terephthalate


Perfluorinated compounds


Perfluoroalkyl carboxylates


Perfluoroheptanoic acid


Perfluorohexanoic acid


Perfluorohexane sulfonate


Perfluorooctanoic acid


Perfluorooctane sulfonate


Perfluoropentanoic acid


Perfluoroalkyl sulfonate


Polytetrafluoroethylene or Teflon®




Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals


Reverse osmosis








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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemistry and BiochemistryUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Water and Soil Quality Research Group, Department of Environmental ChemistryInstitute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDAEA-CSIC)BarcelonaSpain

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