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Lawmakers draft deal that would force companies to cover 80% of pollution clean-up costs: 'Will make our water cleaner and protect our health'

Across the globe, an array of pollutants threaten our water supply, thanks to current and past industries.

Across the globe, an array of pollutants threaten our water supply, thanks to current and past industries.

Photo Credit: iStock

New draft rules in the European Union will require cosmetics and pharmaceutical companies to cover at least 80% of the extra costs needed to clean up pollutants from urban wastewater before it reaches communities, as the Guardian reported.

The European Commission stated that urban wastewater is one of the main sources of water pollution if not collected and treated properly. 

According to the institution, improper treatment can harm the environment and human health. The body also said that 92% of harmful pollutants in wastewater originate from pharmaceutical and cosmetics companies. 

Under the new regulations, EU member states will be required by 2035 to remove organic matter from urban wastewater before releasing it into the environment in communities where more than 1,000 people reside. 

By 2045, they will also have to remove nitrogen and phosphorus in treatment plants covering more than 10,000 people if there is a risk to human or environmental health. 

Companies must also remove micropollutants, and governments will be asked to monitor sewage for microplastics, PFAS (also known as cancer-causing "forever chemicals"), and key health indicators like antimicrobial resistance. 

Virginijus Sinkevičius, the EU environment commissioner, told the Guardian that the new regulations "will make our water cleaner and protect our health." 

Across the globe, an array of pollutants threaten our water supply, thanks to current and past industries. 

For example, one chemical plant's long history of dumping contaminated wastewater into North Carolina's Cape Fear River has rendered the water unsafe to drink for a 100-mile stretch. And an analysis from ABC News found that 43% of U.S. zip codes have been found to have at least one source of water contaminated with PFAS over the past two decades.

Luckily, scientists are making some significant breakthroughs in removing these harmful contaminants. 

For instance, researchers at the University of California, Riverside, have developed a method to break down two of the most common PFAS compounds in less than an hour. Meanwhile, a team at Tarleton State University has found that combinations of extracts from some vegetables can help collect and remove microplastics from water.

As for the new wastewater regulations in Europe, Alain Maron, minister of the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region, stated in a release: "Today's agreement with the Parliament puts us on the right track to reach our zero-pollution objective for Europe. It paves the way for the highest standards to be set for treating urban wastewater and monitoring it so that it does not release harmful substances, like microplastics or PFAS, into the environment."

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