Pharmaceuticals, Personal Care Products and Endocrine Disrupting Compounds

The presence of pharmaceuticals, personal care products (PCPs) and endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) in water supplies has been known for many years, dating back to around the 1980s. Much of the original concern was associated with reports of physiological abnormalities associated with fish and other aquatic organisms in areas near or surrounding discharge sites of waste water treatment facilities. Over time the concerns associated with waste water effluent have expanded into the drinking water arena. 

EDCs are chemicals/compounds that have or are suspected of having an adverse effect on the body’s endocrine system with possible developmental, reproductive, neurological and immune repercussions. They may be naturally occurring, or man-made, chemicals. PPCP and EDCs include literally thousands of compounds and associated metabolites. 

Contaminants In Water As Maximum Contaminant Level
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Personal Care Products
  • Endocrine Disrupting Compounds and their metabolites

Multiple organic and inorganic forms

Not applicable - Several compounds are listed on EPA's Contaminant Candidate List II (CCL III)

Sources of Contaminant

Elimination from the body
Flushing of unused, or expired product
Leachate from landfills
Rinse off from showering or bathing
Agricultural runoff

Potential Health Effects

Levels in finished drinking water supplies are 103 to 106 times lower than therapeutic dose, or effect levels and given that no health effects have been attributed to these compounds at these low concentrations.

However, consumer sensitivity (emotional) to the presence of these compounds have brought them to the forefront of the industry and led to the development of testing to evaluate performance capabilities of residential treatment devices.

Treatment Methods

Point-of-Entry (POE)

Point-of-Use (POU)

Active media (carbon)

Reverse Osmosis



Click here to open WQA's Technical Fact Sheet on Pharmaceuticals, PCPs and EDCs.

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