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Household Chemicals Show Up Just About Anywhere Researchers Look

Modern American life is full of synthetic chemicals – medicines, cosmetics, soaps and shampoos, household cleaners, non-stick cookware, and stain-resistant furniture. Most of us don’t give much thought to where those chemicals go when we’re done with them, but some researchers are tracking them in wastewater, the environment, and even drinking water.

Once you think about it, it seems obvious. We excrete much of the medicine we consume, flushing it down the toilet. We rinse cleaning agents and residues of the clothes and dishes we wash down the drain. Many of these chemicals appear to flow straight through septic systems. Wastewater treatment plants can do a better job of reducing their levels. Still, studies in recent years have found traces of pharmaceuticals and household products nearly everywhere they’ve looked – groundwater, streams, ponds, and coastal waters.