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Water: Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products

Treating Contaminants of Emerging Concern - A Literature Review Database

EPA is releasing the results of an extensive literature review of published studies of the effectiveness of various treatment technologies for contaminants of emerging concern (CECs). The results of this literature review are available in a searchable database. EPA also is releasing a report that discusses some of the results of the literature search, including removals of specific CECs across common wastewater treatment technologies.

Literature Search

In response to emerging concerns about the possible impacts of pharmaceuticals, detergents, hormones, and other chemicals on human health and aquatic organisms, EPA searched over 400 articles that referenced treatment of CECs. About 100 of those sources contained treatment information which was entered into a searchable database. EPA compiled and summarized the results reported by researchers in the last five years. The research studies occurred primarily in the U.S., Canada, and in Europe. The results of this literature search were entered into a searchable Microsoft Access file which can be downloaded here.


The report discusses 16 of the over 200 CECs present in the database, and the average percent removals achieved by full-scale treatment systems that employ six of the more than 20 reported treatment technologies. The report can be downloaded here (100 pp, 5.48MB, About PDF).

Peer Review

EPA peer reviewed both the report and the associated datasets. The reviewers were chosen based on their backgrounds in engineering or chemistry, and were asked to comment on both the information presented in the report and database, and the means in which the information was presented.

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