Water & Wastewater Asia Mar/Apr 2020

42 VIEWPOINT W ater is the elixir of life but in many developing countries across Asia Pacific, the growing population suffers from shortage of safe and clean water resources because of contamination, pollution, poor infrastructure or management. Rapid urbanisation has caused demand for water supplies to increase, putting greater pressure on the existing water resources. Another challenge is that undetected contaminants continue to enter water streams, potentially harming both humans and animals. These include manufactured chemicals like pharmaceuticals, plasticizers in personal care products, fire retardants used in furniture, detergents, insect- repellents, contraceptive hormones and even a little bit of caffeine. Due to their small size, microplastics, a growing global concern, too have the potential to spread throughout all parts of our environment, from mountains and oceans to drinking water. Numerous reports have suggested that these chemicals and other emerging pollutants are found in rivers, lakes and drinking water supplies globally, and at an increasing frequency. 123 Currently, toxicity data is available only for a few of these emerging contaminants. Long- term effects of exposure to these compounds and the potential synergistic effects they may have in humans over time are currently unknown for a majority. With over 159 million CAS-registered chemicals in the world today (assigned by the Chemical Abstracts Services), it should not be a surprise to find that some of these commercially available chemical substances are entering the environment. 4 Very few, if any, emerging contaminants are regulated in water around the world. With these existing concerns, there is a need to look for governments and water agencies to tackle them, as well as search for alternate sources of water to sustain daily life, support the changing human lifestyle and cater for industrialisation. Challenges in water treatment technology Water recycling or water reuse initiatives are on the rise globally to augment current water supplies and reduce reliance on seasonal Leveraging technology to meet pressing water challenges By Tarun Anumol (PhD), Director, Global Environment & Food Applied Markets at Agilent Technologies