The Associated Press investigations into waterway contaminants has spurred Pennsylvania into action. The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is teaming up with the U.S. Geological Survey and University of Pittsburgh public health researcher Conrad Volz to monitor trace amounts of hormones and pharmaceuticals in waterways state-wide, including the Allegheny River.
The 3-year study will examine samples from 27 streams, rivers, and lakes to help determine how these contaminants are finding their way into the water. DEP spokesperson Helen Humphreys says recent technological advances allow them to detect the trace amounts. She says the public doesn't need to panic, as the contamination level is the equivalent of a grain of salt in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The state already has some of the safest public water, but Humphreys says they want to know more.
She says it's easier to prevent contamination than to clean it, so people should be careful about what they flush or dump down the drain. The study's findings will help the state determine what, if any, new regulations are needed.