You may have heard the saying “all drains lead to the lake,” but it can be hard to remember that includes what is sent down sinks, toilets, and washing machines. Many things we do in the course of a day can contribute to the contamination of surface waters (lakes and streams) in ways we cannot see. Some of these “every day chemicals” are known as contaminants of emerging concern.
In 2013, the Great Lakes Network joined six other Inventory and Monitoring Networks and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) in a study analyzing samples from park surface waters for wastewater indicators, pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and pesticides. From 2013 through 2015 we collected surface water samples from four parks—Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Isle Royale National Park, and Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. Samples from Isle Royale were not analyzed for wastewater indicators.