Society for
Organic Urban
Land Care

A xenobiotic (Greek, xenos foreign ; bios life) is a compound that is foreign to a living organism. Xenobiotics are endocrine disrupting chemicals, also referred to as EDCs. These include:

  • Pesticides
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Veterinary / human antibiotics
  • Industrial / household compounds
  • Hormones and sterols

During 1999-2000, a reconnaissance of United States water resources by the U.S. Geological Survey for pharmaceuticals and other wastewater contaminants indicated that 80% of the streams (139 streams from 30 states) sampled had measurable levels of contamination.

These findings were said to be reminiscent of Rachael Carson's "Silent Spring" with regards to the potential impact of these compounds to our environment.

Here are a few resources to add to your environmental toolbox:

Drugging Our Water - We Flush It, Then We Drink It

Birth control pills, estrogen replacement drugs, ibuprofen, bug spray, sunscreen, mouthwash and antibacterial soap: all of these products could turn up in your next glass of tap water, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Last summer, USGS scientists sampled 139 rivers and streams, finding hundreds of prescription and over-the-counter drugs and personal care products lingering in the nation’s water supply.

Water-Quality Data for Pharmaceuticals, Hormones, and Other Organic Wastewater Contaminants in U.S. Streams

Water-quality data collected during 1999 and 2000 as part of the first nationwide reconnaissance of the occurrence of pharmaceuticals, hormones, and other organic wastewater contaminants (OWCs) are presented in this report. A network of 139 streams in 30 states were sampled and analyzed for 95 different OWCs using five new research methods developed by the U.S. Geological Survey. Site selection was biased toward streams more susceptible to OWC contamination because of proximity to urban areas or livestock production. At least one OWC was detected in 80% of the streams sampled, with 82 of the 95 analyzed OWCs determined in this study detected in at least one sample.

The most frequently detected compounds in waterways

Figure 2 from above report

Pharmaceuticals, Hormones, and Other Organic Wastewater Contaminants in U.S. Streams

Chemicals, used everyday in homes, industry and agriculture, can enter the environment in wastewater. These chemicals include human and veterinary drugs (including antibiotics), hormones, detergents, disinfectants, plasticizers, fire retardants, insecticides, and antioxidants. To assess whether these chemicals are entering our Nation's streams, the Toxic Substances Hydrology Program of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) collected and analyzed water samples from 139 streams in 30 states during 1999 and 2000. Streams were sampled that were considered susceptible to contamination from various wastewater sources, such as those downstream from intense urbanization or livestock production. Thus, the results of this study are not considered representative of all streams.

Emerging Contaminants in the Environment

Research is documenting with increasing frequency that many chemical and microbial constituents that have not historically been considered as contaminants are present in the environment on a global scale. These "emerging contaminants" are commonly derived from municipal, agricultural, and industrial wastewater sources and pathways. These newly recognized contaminants represent a shift in traditional thinking as many are produced industrially yet are dispersed to the environment from domestic, commercial, and industrial uses.

Canadian Society for Organic Urban Land Care (SOUL)
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