At the turn of the century, between 1999 and 2000, Dana Kolpin and a small group of his fellow United States Geological Survey scientists were busy. Over the course of two years they conducted a nationwide reconnaissance to measure organic wastewater contaminants in 139 streams in thirty different states. The water they collected was analyzed for a variety of pharmaceuticals, including veterinary and human antibiotics, prescription and nonprescription drugs, as well as steroids and hormones. They also tested for a few personal care products, including DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide), the primary chemical used in many common insect repellants, and triclosan, an antibacterial compound found in soaps and detergents. While the sampling sites were biased toward streams adjacent to potential sources of contamination, and most chemicals were found in only very low concentration (less than one part per billion), the results were still striking. Fully 80 percent of the 139 sampled streams contained detectable levels of a number of compounds found, on average, in a mixture of seven different chemical compounds per site.
KeywordsWest Nile Virus Personal Care Product Smooth Muscle Tumor Nonprescription Drug Uterine Leiomyomata
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