Special-attention substance lists and prioritisation help to focus preventive research
Timely signalling substances that can threaten drinking water supply
Many of the substances we produce can end up in the water cycle: during production, during use or as waste. Water companies want – proactively – to know which emerging substances can, or will, reach the water cycle, so that they can optimally equip their drinking water treatment processes. The signalling of emerging substances that possibly present a risk to drinking water quality is therefore an ongoing activity.
Proactive research helps to guarantee drinking water quality
In 2013, KWR is compiling, within the water sector’s joint research programme (BTO), a special-attention substance list of tens of substances that possibly present a threat for the drinking water cycle. The list is based on information from a wide range of databases containing measurements taken in the country and abroad, scientific literature, scientific congresses and networks, and the media. Furthermore, the researchers are comparing the lists of substances produced with measurement data from broad screening research.
A prioritisation methodology is also being established to help select those substances from the special-attention list that then become the subject of initial research because they possibly occur in concentrations that might have undesirable effects. A substance’s occurrence in drinking water sources, or its capability of causing harmful health effects, or the degree of difficulty of removing it during drinking water production are all factors that are taken into account in the prioritisation.
Safe drinking water
With this approach, KWR supports the water companies in their effort to guarantee the safety of drinking water today and into the future. In doing so, KWR works closely with the Association of Dutch Water Companies (Vewin). In this framework, KWR researchers, among other activities, provide advice on pharmaceuticals and water quality to the Dutch parliament’s standing committee on Infrastructure and the Environment.
© 2017 KWR Watercycle Research Institute
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Thomas ter Laak