image © Gabriella Rundblad, while original earth image courtesy of NASA National Space Science Data Center

Consumer Perceptions and Attitudes towards EDCs and PPCPs in Drinking Water


Water Research Foundation


King's College London
Aqua Vitae (-2012)


Gabriella Rundblad (project manager and primary investigator)
Chris Tang (UK research assistant)
Olivia Knapton (UK research assistant/administrator)
Mary Myzer (UK research assistant)
Aga Tytus (UK research assistant)
Roseanna Cooke (UK research assistant)

Lisa Ragain (US investigator)
Jennifer Trevino Breedlove (US research assistant)


Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments
DC Water
Fairfax County Water Authority
Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission
Philadelphia Water Department
Portland Water Bureau
Drinking Water Inspectorate
Anglian Water


February 2011 - October 2013


US and UK drinking water utilities are charged with providing safe drinking water to their customers, under the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Water Act 2003 and the Water Industry Act 1999, respectively. Advances in research have yielded new and more precise analytical methods that allow water utilities to detect minute traces of emerging contaminants, such as endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) and pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in treated water. Recent reviews show that there is no significant risk to health associated with intake of EDCs or PPCPs via US or UK drinking water. However, there is also international evidence of hot-spots where the surface, ground, and drinking water is contaminated by pharmaceuticals, such as ciprofloxacin and cetirizine, and where public health may be compromised. Currently, neither the US nor the UK regulate EDCs or PPCPs, nor are any rules forthcoming in the foreseeable future, and the WHO does not provide any guidance either on this issue.

Members of the general public are getting more and more information about EDCs and PPCPs in drinking water from sources that range from investigative reports from the Associated Press, to the release of surveys by the United States Geological Survey or the Drinking Water Inspectorate. Not surprisingly, media has tended to exploit the uncertainties inherent in EDCs and PPCPs to create news items – items that have and continue to raise public concern.

This project aimed to advance the understanding of consumer and utility beliefs, perceptions and attitudes about endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) and pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in drinking water. We also sought to establish the impact that other factors, such as media reports and water aesthetics have on perceptions.

If you are a subscriber to the Water Research Foundation, you can find the Scope of Work here.


under review


We have presented the results from this study at the 4th UK Cognitive Linguistics COnference, London 2012, the Health Protection Conference, Warwick 2012, the Applied Linguistics Association New Zealand Conference, Hamilton 2012, the Annual Conference and Exhibition, Denver 2013, the Public Health Science Conference, London 2013, the Metaphor and Health Communication Workshop, Lancaster 2014, and the Water Quality Technical Conference, New Orleans 2014.


The research team organised a water industry workshop in collaboration with the Drinking Water Inspectorate: Water and Contamination Workshop.


If you are a subscriber to the Water Research Foundation, you can find the full final project report and the project webcast here.

The executive summary - free to all - is available here.

© 2010-2013