From The Editor | September 4, 2013

Boys Will Be Girls: The Life-Altering Effects Of PPCPs In Drinking Water


By Kevin Westerling,


Are man-made chemicals unmaking man? Studies suggest action may not only be needed, but overdue.

It has long been known that there are trace amounts of PPCPs (pharmaceutical and personal care products) that escape our wastewater treatment plants and end up in waterways, including drinking water sources. However, they appear in such trace amounts — parts per billion (ppb) or parts per trillion (ppt) — that they have thus far been considered essentially harmless and therefore unregulated by the U.S. EPA. But something fishy is going on in the water, and not just with the fish. Recent research suggests that exposure to PPCPs in drinking water may subject humans, particularly males, to gender-morphing and other reproductive system alterations.

Though unregulated, PPCPs are on the EPA’s radar via the Third Contaminant Candidate List (CCL3) and the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR) — precursors to possible regulatory action. The EPA defines PPCPs as “any product used by individuals for personal health or cosmetic reasons or used by agribusiness to enhance growth or health of livestock. PPCPs comprise a diverse collection of thousands of chemical substances, including prescription and over-the-counter therapeutic drugs, veterinary drugs, fragrances, lotions, and cosmetics.”