A new report suggests Iowans should be more concerned about the perfume, bug spray and other things we spray on our bodies as those substances often wind up in the water supply. Teresa Galluzzo is with the Iowa Policy Project, the group that released the report. She says when we shower and do laundry, the shampoo and detergent we use also winds up in the waste water that’s treated and then reused in drinking water systems.
“Organic wastewater contaminants not only slip through the treatment process, but they also slip through all of our current environmental regulations,” Galluzzo says. William Wombacher, a civil and environmental engineer, conducted the research. While there’s been some attention to the pharmaceuticals that wind up in the water supply, Wombacher says there’s been little attention to other organic compounds that come from a wide array of common products.
“Synthetic fragrances which are added to shampoos, lotions and deodorants; antibacterial agents in soaps; Deet, the active ingredient in insect repellent,” he says. “There are the compounds that you find in sunscreen.” Wombacher says there’s little research about the impact these compounds may have when they’re in our drinking water. Wombacher earned a masters degree from the University of Iowa and worked for three years as a student operator of the university’s drinking water system.