UK Report Urges Greater Study of Contaminants

The Royal Society of Chemistry in the United Kingdom has published a report that calls for a greater emphasis on the quality of the nation's water supply.  

In recent years, new contaminants have entered the water system, including medicines and byproducts and personal healthcare products such as musk perfumes. The UK's wastewater treatment works are not designed to remove all of these types of products, so some contaminants remain in water sources. 

The call for greater research into environmental contaminants comes in "Sustainable Water: Chemical Science Priorities," which will be launched at the Royal Society of Chemistry at Burlington House in London. 

Jeff Hardy, environment and energy manager of the society said: "There are several key questions that chemists and other scientists are working hard on answering. How are contaminants broken down? What are the products of that breakdown? What are the properties of these breakdown products? The basic chemistry of these reactions needs to be understood to minimize risks to human and environmental health."  

Hardy added: "The report shows that the outlook is positive and that there is a great opportunity for green product design.  If we have a complete understanding of the environmental fate of contaminants, then it is possible to design chemicals and products that are highly effective in their use, and at end of life, are reusable and/or recyclable or degrade quickly in the environment to products with minimal risk to human and environmental health." 

With contributions from 29 scientists, the full report investigates eight aspects of sustainable water management including resources, demands, treatment, monitoring, fate of contaminants, health, efficiency, and green product design. 

The report makes 57 recommendations to those with the authority to act upon them.  

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