Compounds of emerging concern - or CECs - have gained notoriety in recent years. CECs include pharmaceuticals, personal care products, endocrine disruptors, and antibiotic resistance genes that can turn up in water supplies. They are unregulated by federal and state water quality agencies because they occur at extremely low concentrations - nanograms per liter. In fact, laboratory equipment could not detect the compounds at these concentrations until about 2002. Improvements in analytical technology now allow labs to detect compounds well below the concentrations known to impact public health. CEC concentrations are very low in Flagstaff’s water, as they are in most communities. To put this into perspective, the Water Research Foundation estimates that you would have to drink 1.7 million 8-ounce glasses of water to get the equivalent of a single medical dose (e.g., one pill) of a pharmaceutical compound. Read more about this calculation.
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