Emerging contaminants in surface waters and their relevance for the production of drinking water in Europe
An increasing part of drinking water in Europe is prepared from surface water. At the same time, a growing number of emerging contaminants is being discovered in surface water. This review provides an overview of classes of emerging contaminants nowadays detected in the aquatic environment that are of relevance for drinking water production. These comprise e.g. endocrine disrupting compounds, such as hormones and compounds with hormone-like properties, pharmaceuticals, illicit and non-controlled drugs, sweeteners, personal care products, complexing agents, nanoparticles, perfluorinated compounds, flame retardants, pesticides, and fuel additives. The individual compounds are observed in concentrations that are generally considered too low to cause acute effects. Nevertheless, health effects due to long-term exposure to a mixture of low concentrations of all kinds of emerging contaminants cannot be excluded with current knowledge. Moreover, contamination of drinking water with man-made substances is considered unwanted in principle. The precautionary principle is used to motivate that prevention of emission of emerging contaminants into the environment is the preferred approach to safeguard sustainable drinking water production. In the mean time, extensive monitoring of the sources and development and application of advanced treatment techniques are used to prepare safe drinking water.