Contaminants of Concern

Contaminants of Concern


Inorganic contaminants like arsenic, iron, chromium and manganese commonly occur in nature and often end up in our surface and ground waters.  Some occur as a result of manmade pollution such as perchlorate, and others like nitrates occur because of interactions between nature and pollution.

Inorganic contaminants impact taste, color, and odor of our drinking water.  They are also important for health, having both beneficial and adverse effects.


Managing Lead in Drinking Water

Disinfection Byproducts



Perchlorate is used as an oxidizer in solid rocket fuel and other propellants and to a lesser extent, in fireworks, explosives and air-bag inflators. 

It can interfere with iodide uptake in the thyroid gland, which is a central control point for a variety of hormonal responses. It is highly soluble in water and has been detected in 26 states and one territory.  

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Arsenic, a natural component of the earth’s crust, is one of the most persistent and widespread contaminants in natural waters.

Because the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) lowered the arsenic maximum contaminant level (MCL) in 2001 to 10 parts per billion (ppb), replacing the old standard of 50 ppb, there has been considerable research and implementation of full-scale treatment systems for arsenic removal.


PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are persistent synthetic compounds used in a variety of industrial and consumer product applications including non-stick cookware and firefighting foams. The presence of PFAS compounds in source water and drinking water is of increasing public concern due to their widespread use and environmental persistence.

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Standard Methods

AWWA Technical Guidance 

AWWA Manuals of Practice


The Partnership for Safe Water

The Partnership for Safe Water is an unprecedented alliance of six prestigious drinking water organizations. The PSW's mission is to improve the quality of water delivered to customers by optimizing water system operations. The PSW offers self-assessment and optimization programs so that operators, managers and administrators have the tools to improve performance above and beyond even proposed regulatory levels.  Learn more.

Water Quality and Technology Conference

Water professionals around the world attend the Water Quality Technology Conference & Exposition, the event of the year for providing answers to improve water quality in a continually changing environment. Plan now to attend this important event featuring an unparalleled technical program, extensive networking opportunities, and the latest innovations in water quality technology and services.

AWWA Annual Conference and Exposition 

AWWA's Annual Conference and Exposition is where the most current industry topics, issues, and trends will be discussed. The professional program features subject matter experts covering a range of key water topics to address your challenges.

AWWA Policy Statements

AWWA's policy statements are brief statements on protecting and improving water supply, water quality, management, and the interests of the public and the environment. They are written by consensus, subject to review and comment by AWWA committees, councils, and members. Because they represent AWWA's position on these matters, they are approved by the AWWA Executive Committee of the board of directors.

Technical Committee Engagement

AWWA members are recognized globally for their industry expertise and their generosity in sharing that expertise for a better world through better water. AWWA members participate in committee activities, developing conference programs, writing technical manuals, developing standards, creating educational content and contributing to AWWA publications. Committee members primarily interact through conference calls, emails, and face to face meetings at conferences and events. Access more information on volunteering for an AWWA committee.

The following committees are active in addressing issues about inorganic contaminants: