Is your drinking water clean? Is it safe to drink? In the last two decades, the presence of new chemical compounds called emerging pollutants has been detected in wastewater, aquatic environments, and drinking water. Emerging pollutants result from a variety of human processes and do not break down easily and therefore accumulate in our environment. The animation illustrates what emerging pollutants are, how they enter water sources, and what role individuals can take in improving the quality of their drinking water. Watch the animation and please share it!
Ensuring Safe Tap Water Resources: Addressing Emerging Pollutants and Driving Innovation
The majority of emerging pollutants stem from human activities and result from systems of production and habits of consumption. For example, some sources of emerging pollutants are pesticides and fertilizers applied to agriculture that leak into the water as well as medications and pharmaceuticals that are improperly disposed of at the household level. Despite that emerging pollutants were first detected nearly two decades ago, little remains known about the impacts they have on human health or the environment.
Europe is a world leader in managing safe drinking water resources and it has achieved this status through strong regulation of the water and waste water sector at the supranational governance level and through its support and investment in innovative water technologies. As a result, tap water is safe to drink in most European cities and communities, which cannot be said of many other countries regardless of their state of development.
It becomes clear that ensuring a system that enables the equitable distribution of publically available tap water offers both economic and environmental benefits. Europe has so far set high parameters in providing clean and safe water and is at the forefront of addressing challenges such as emerging pollutants. Demographic pressures such as population growth, urbanization and climate change will continue to have an influence on water quality and quantity and for this reason Europe must continue to invest in innovations and the progress of its water and waste water sector. In this case, scientific studies and developments that aim to better understand the impact of emerging pollutants need to be accompanied by technological innovations that improve the removal of such pollutants.
The European Union project DEMEAU is supporting the implementation of four new technologies designed to improve water quality and address emerging pollutants. The project aims to facilitate the practical implementation of these technologies working with policy makers, members of society and the water utilities to pilot and demonstrate their efficiency, usability and scalability.
Implementing and testing new water purification technologies is an investment of public interest. It is the responsibility of consumers to encourage their water utilities to try new technologies. Although this may incur an increase in the cost of tap water, this however pales in comparison to the costs of bottled water, which often is of lower water quality. The investment in the water sector increases its capacity to progress and continue to lead the way in innovation and provision of clean and safe water.
The animation was produced by the EU funded project DEMEAU. The project demonstrates innovative technologies that address emerging pollutants in drinking and waste water.