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Assessment of so called organic trace compounds in drinking water from the regulatory, health and aesthetic-quality points of view, with special consideration given to pharmaceuticals

You are viewing information about the paper Assessment of so called organic trace compounds in drinking water from the regulatory, health and aesthetic-quality points of view, with special consideration given to pharmaceuticals.

Journal: Bundesgesundheitsblatt Gesundheitsforschung Gesundheitsschutz 2007/03/06
Published: 2007
Authors: Dieter, H. H.;Muckter, H.
Address: Umweltbundesamt, Berlin, BRD. hermann-h.dieter@uba.de

More than 2500 chemically defined substances are approved as drugs in Germany. Unlike agricultural pesticides, these biologically active structures are not used in open environmental compartments and therefore their environmental toxicological data base is not nearly as complete. Nevertheless, some of them become environmental contaminants after their intended use. Therefore, from the viewpoint of environmental health protection, there are gaps in their health-related environmental risk assessment. Organic trace compounds that lack an adequate toxicological database, and their mixtures, in drinking water can be safely regulated and provisionally assessed by combining the "similar joint action" addition rule with the recommendation of the Federal Environment Agency of March 2003 "Assessing the presence of substances in drinking water without (adequate) toxicological database from the health point of view". The general precautionary value (Gesundheitlicher Orientierungswert GOW1=0.10 microg/l), which is a recommendation for weakly to not genotoxic compounds, re presents a workable compromise between preventive health protection, water management considerations and aesthetic quality claims (purity). Compliance with this value in the long term will only be possible if the chemical and biological degradation of pharmaceuticals and their metabolites in waste water and waste water treatment plants is effectively improved. Alternatively, there is the risk of drinking water degenerating into a sink for highly mobile, polar and persistent compounds. Their elimination at a stage as late as technical drinking water treatment would be neither close to the initial cause nor justifiable in terms of technical effectiveness. The risk assessment of their byproducts would give rise to further uncertainties. Possible conflicts with the therapeutic quality must be solved by developing substitute products which are environmentally sound.

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