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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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Occurrence of Unregulated Compounds in Surface Waters, Ground Waters and Public Drinking Water Supplies in NJ
Recently, articles have been appearing both in the scientific literature as well as in the popular press on the occurrence of unregulated contaminants in New Jersey’s water. The projects are related to each other but there are fundamental differences that set them apart. The results of all the studies relate to each other and can assist regulators in making decisions about public and ecological health and protection.

There are four studies that have dealt with the issue.

• NJDEP New Jersey “TIC” Study
The characterization of Tentatively Identified Compounds (TICs) in water samples collected from public water systems in New Jersey

• USGS National Toxic Substances Study:
Pharmaceuticals, Hormones, and Other Organic Wastewater Contaminants in U.S. Streams, 1999-2000: A National Reconnaissance

• NJDEP-USGS New Jersey Toxic Substances Study
Occurrence, Distribution, And Concentration of Pharmaceuticals And Other Organic Wastewater-Related Compounds In New Jersey’s Surface-Water Supplies

• USGS-CDC New Jersey Drinking Water Treatment -Plant Study
Fate of Organic Wastewater Contaminants in a Drinking-Water Treatment Facility

Despite the differences in the various studies, several generalizations can be made about the results:

  • Analytical methods are capable of detecting unregulated compounds at ultra-trace levels.
    • 600 tentatively identified compounds were detected in the NJDEP-EOHSI study.
    • 60 of 122 organic wastewater contaminants were detected in 1 or more stream samples in USGS study.
  • QA procedures vital for interpretation of results.
    • Compounds in both samples and blanks.
    • Compounds sometimes in blanks.
    • False positives and negatives possible.
  • Unregulated compounds in all studies were detected at sub-ppb levels.
  • Only a fraction of the detected compounds in the studies have standards, guidelines, or criteria.
  • Some compounds pass through existing water treatment.
    • 51 tentatively identified compounds in raw and finished water.
    • 11 organic wastewater contaminants tracked throughout a water system.
  • Unique compounds may be introduced due to treatment.
  • Little is known about human health effects and even less about ecological effects.
  • Mixtures of regulated and unregulated chemicals present at trace levels in drinking water.


Efficiency of conventional drinking-water-treatment processes in removal of pharmaceuticals and other organic compounds - Science of The Total Environment
Volume 377, Issues 2-3, 15 May 2007, Pages 255-272


Unregulated Organic Chemicals in Drinking Water - March 2008
NJ AWWA Spring Conference

Testimony - Dr. Eileen Murphy Director, DSRT - Before the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources - May 2008

Division of Science and Research
Dr. Gary A. Buchanan, Director

Phone: (609) 984-6070
Fax: (609) 292-7340