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Health Effects Concerns of Water Reuse with Research Recommendations

Project: 06-04
Year Released: 2012
Type: White Paper

Program: Principal
Funding Partner: Bureau of Reclamation, California State Water Resources Control Board
Total Investment: $276,122.75 (Cash: $147,000, In-Kind: $129,122.75)

Principal Investigators: Joseph A. Cotruvo, Joseph Cotruvo & Associates LLC; Richard Bull, MoBull Consulting; James Crook, Water Reuse Consultant; Margaret Whittaker, ToxServices

Background

One of the continuing questions and sources of public concern and regulatory ambiguity has been the appropriate quality and maximum chemical composition and safety of water produced by planned water reuse projects. This project aims to examine information on the composition of highly processed wastewaters, apply screening methods to identify residual chemicals, determine what types of studies would be needed.

Goals and Objectives

The project examines information on the composition of highly processed wastewaters, apply screening methods to identify residual chemicals that are present at sufficient concentrations to be a health concern, determine what types of studies would be needed to provide an adequate basis for risk assessment, and develop several nomination packages for federal agencies’ research programs to encourage them to carry out studies to provide important information that could be used to assess more precisely the potential for trace contaminants in recycled water to be a health concern.

Research Approach

This project evaluated information on the chemical composition of wastewaters at several levels of processing ranging from tertiary treatment to membranes and advanced oxidation and soil treatments. Toxicity screening methods were applied to identify residual chemicals that might be a health concern, based on their estimated toxicity and concentrations.

For the selected chemicals and groups, studies were identified that would provide an enhanced basis for risk assessment for low exposures from drinking water. Draft nomination packages were prepared and submitted to several federal agencies’ research programs to encourage them to carry out the studies that would provide important information for risk assessments that would provide the basis for evaluating residual contaminants in recycled water that might be a health concern for human exposure.

Findings and Conclusions

This report concludes that, in general, the concentrations of residual contaminants in highly processed wastewaters that could be used for planned indirect potable reuse were so low that that it is unlikely that there would be any significant residual risks. However, the report does identify types and families of chemicals where additional toxicology studies are warranted, because of actual or probable presence in highly processed wastewaters and inadequate data to determine if there is a health hazard.

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