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Great Lakes Article:

Study to examine if contaminants are found in drinking water

May 13, 2002, 5:19 AM

DUNDEE, Mich. (AP) -- A federal study will seek to answer questions about whether wastewater contaminants like drugs and hormones are in drinking water supplies.

Researchers are studying water samples from 76 locations around the nation, including the River Raisin near Deerfield and the Huron River near Ann Arbor.

The samples, taken last summer, are being analyzed in a nationwide study on chemicals in wastewater. The amount of chemicals present may be reported by this fall, but it could be a while before the potential health effects are known.

The Raisin and Huron are the only two rivers in Michigan included in the sampling. They were chosen because they treated river water in the area is used for drinking water, said Sheridan Haack, a research hydrologist with the Michigan office of the U.S. Geological Survey.

"Michigan has no more than 10 locations in the state where utilities use river water for drinking water," she told The Monroe Evening News.

Haack said most Michigan drinking water comes from the Great Lakes or from wells. She said the study will try to quantify the chemicals and then determine potential health effects.

"We do know that there are many different kinds of personal care compounds and various other materials we use daily in our rivers," she said. "Some may have effects on human or wildlife health, but most of that is unknown."

Because other studies have shown that organic wastewater contaminants may persist in the environment, it's important to see if they exist in surface and groundwater used for drinking water.

The government wants to learn whether even such trace amounts in raw water supplies may impact health. Europeans have been collecting such data for the last 10 years and have found evidence that such chemicals do exist.

"The U.S. has had no data to determine whether this was an issue of concern in the United States or not," Haack said.

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