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'Personal Care Products,' Pharmaceutical Toxics Found In Columbia River

RICHLAND, Wash. – Giant smoke stacks and industrial dump sites are no longer the only water quality problem on the Columbia River. A recent study has found that our day-to-day life has a major impact as well.

U.S. Geological Survey researchers looked at nine cities along the river, from Wenatchee to Longview, Wash. They detected hundreds of contaminants flowing from wastewater treatment plants and stormwater runoff.

Hydrologist Jennifer Morace says the toxic contaminants included things like shampoo and pharmaceuticals.

“What goes down our drain does eventually get to the river. The treatment plant does treat for the things that it was designed to do, which is nutrients and bacteria –- that sort of thing. But they’re not designed to deal with the things that we’re putting down the drains now.”

Morace wants to continue researching the effects on marine life, the ecosystem and people. River advocates say people need to monitor what they buy and how they dispose of products.

On the Web:

Columbia River contamination study:

Contamination map:,-121.069336&spn=4.515066,6.591797&z=6&source=embed

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