One of the most interesting groundwater problems to hydrologists, geologists, and environmental scientists is discovering and managing potential threats to groundwater.
As we’ve discussed before, contamination of our groundwater threatens our drinking water. MCWEC was founded to help prevention contamination to Marion County’s groundwater. While we know of lots of current contamination threats to our groundwater, like leaks from chemical storage tanks, septic systems, uncontrolled hazardous waste, leaking landfills, there are also threats that are just beginning to be better understood.
The purpose of today’s post is to give you a quick idea of some of the emerging groundwater contaminants that people across the country are researching and exploring methods to better understand and treat.
- Nitrates: These chemical compounds are a type of salt of nitrogen that is very soluble (meaning dissolves easily in water). Nitrates are an important natural part of the nitrogen cycle. Nitrates are commonly used as fertilizer on lawns and for agriculture. Nitrates are harmless in small amounts, but in large amounts can cause serious negative health effects.
- Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products: This category consists of a wide variety of chemicals that include human and animal medications and drugs, dietary supplements, personal care products (such as toiletries, sunscreen, perfume), and laundry and cleaning products. These chemicals are introduced into the environment due to improper disposal, discharge from municipal sewage or septic systems, excretion from humans or animals, runoff, and many other methods. Very little is known about these chemicals fate in the environment and health effects to humans. If you would like to learn more, view this factsheet.
- Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs): These chemicals are fluorinated organic chemicals and have been used in the manufacture of many products, packing for food, cookware, and for firefighting. Groundwater contamination with these chemicals is generally associated with specific facilities where the chemicals were produced, used in the manufacturing process, or used for firefighting. EPA recently established a drinking water health advisory level for these compounds. If you are interested in more information, view the EPA factsheet.
There are many other emerging groundwater contaminants but the purpose of this post is to give you a quick overview of several of the most important. If you are interested in finding more about the water quality of your drinking water, view the Consumer Confidence Reports as discussed in our previous post.