Fact Sheet : Pharmaceuticals in Water

By Water Quality Association
Home filtering systems provide best protection for drinking water.

As news reports about pharmaceuticals in water circulate, here are several facts for
consumers to consider:
• Filtering systems in the home provide the highest technology available for treatment of drinking water. Less than two percent of all water consumed is ingested by humans,
making these “point-of-use” systems the most cost-effective and environmentally
•  While utilities are required to meet safety standards set by the U.S. EPA, home
fi  ltering systems act as a fi  nal contaminant barrier and can further purify water for drinking.
• While specific product performance standards have not yet been developed for
pharmaceuticals, many point-of-use technologies have proven effective for some
of these emerging contaminants. Nano-fi  ltration and reverse osmosis systems
removed drugs tested by the Colorado School of Mines at full-scale facilities in Arizona
and California. Activated carbon, distillation, ozonation, and advanced oxidization
have likewise shown promise in removing many of these contaminants. Individual
manufacturers can also test products for specifi  c pharmaceuticals if they choose.
• According to Utah State University Extension, up to 90 percent of oral drugs can
pass through humans unchanged. These often then move through wastewater into
streams and groundwater. It is generally cost prohibitive for utilities to use systems
such as nano-fi  ltration, long contact activated carbon, and reverse osmosis. However,
these technologies have proven successful at removing many contaminants in home
water treatment systems.
• In addition to pharmaceuticals, water quality experts are examining other emerging
contaminants, such as those found in personal care products and pesticides. These
are often referred to as endocrine disrupting chemicals. Home filtering systems have
also been proven to treat threats such as lead and mercury.
• WQA provides  Gold Seal certifi  cation for products that remove a variety of
• Consumers can learn about different treatment systems and  find locally certified
dealers by visiting the WQA Web site’s Gold Seal and  Find A Professional
• More information is available at WQA’s Water Information Library online, which
includes a search feature.
(Source from Water Quality Association International Headquarters & Laboratory)

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