Thousands of substances used in everyday life - from pharmaceuticals to consumer products - may pose threats to source water. While the presence of some of these substances in drinking water sources and their potential health impacts are well documented, many others have only recently been discovered and are much more poorly understood. These are commonly known as emerging contaminants. Understanding the presence and impacts of both emerging and well-documented contaminants and effective methods for their mitigation is critical to ensuring a safe and sustainable supply of drinking water.

  • State, provincial and federal laws require that drinking water suppliers monitor for certain regulated and unregulated contaminants.
  • Research by universities, state, and federal agencies provides drinking water suppliers with the latest science on potential threats and methods for treating contaminated drinking water.
  • Early detection systems can identify the presence of contaminants in source water, allowing treatment plants to get ahead of concerns and adjust treatment methods or supply sources accordingly.

See below for related Investments in monitoring and research

Related Investments

U.S. EPA Research and Monitoring for Unregulated Contaminants in Drinking Water

The U.S. EPA’s Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR) requires all public drinking water systems serving at least 10,000 people and a random subset of smaller public systems to monitor for selected contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) every five years. This monitoring can help define presence and risk of contaminants may inform future regulatory action, based on findings.