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Scientists study septic systems for chemical traces

Adam Trevisan, left, and Charlie Humphrey
(1/20/15) — In rural eastern North Carolina, septic systems are the primary way sewage is treated. While the systems are simple yet effective, some experts now wonder if the systems and the rules governing their installation are sufficient to keep ground and surface water clean from the modern synthetic chemicals found in common products and medicines.

That’s what a group of 10 East Carolina University researchers is working to find out. Geologists, toxicologists, engineers and others are studying “emerging contaminants” in coastal waters, particularly pharmaceutical and personal care product pollutants, or PPCPs, how they move from septic systems and what health risks they might present to humans and other organisms.

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