CSU forum on emerging contaminants: Plants can absorb chemicals from effluent

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Trevor Hughes):

University of Arizona professor Charles A. Sanchez is conducting research on the Colorado River, looking into where such chemicals are found and at what levels they can be found in plants irrigated with treated wastewater. Speaking at a Colorado State University forum on emerging contaminants, Sanchez said his tests showed what he considered very low amounts of illicit drugs such as methamphetamine and ecstasy, along with antibiotics, present in crops such as melons, cantaloupe and spinach irrigated with the effluent. “We found a little bit of ecstasy in Bermuda grass,” Sanchez said. “We think the risk is negligible.”[…]

Fort Collins does not widely use effluent for irrigation, said Steve Comstock, the city’s water reclamation and biosolids manager. Comstock said some effluent is used to irrigate the lawns around the city’s two treatment plants, but that’s it. He said Sanchez’s research builds on what many people in the industry already know. Multiple studies, including on the Poudre River, have shown the presence of everything from caffeine and antibiotics to birth control in treated wastewater. Federal regulations don’t require the removal of such contaminants, but that day is likely coming, Comstock said. “It’s something that everybody sort of knows that’s on the horizon,” Comstock said. “The suspicion out there is that this will be regulated before long.”

More wastewater coverage here.

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