Emerging Contaminants In the Environment
Research is documenting with increasing frequency that many chemical and microbial constituents that
have not historically been considered as contaminants are present in the environment on a global
scale. These "emerging contaminants" are commonly derived from municipal, agricultural,
and industrial wastewater sources and pathways. These newly recognized contaminants represent a
shift in traditional thinking as many are produced industrially yet are dispersed to the environment
from domestic, commercial, and industrial uses.
"Emerging contaminants" can be broadly defined as
any synthetic or naturally occurring chemical or any microorganism that is
not commonly monitored in the environment but has the potential to enter the
environment and cause known or suspected adverse ecological and(or) human
health effects. In some cases, release of emerging chemical or microbial
contaminants to the environment has likely occurred for a long time, but may
not have been recognized until new detection methods were
developed. In other cases, synthesis of new chemicals or changes in use and
disposal of existing chemicals can create new sources of emerging
The major goal of the Emerging Contaminants Project is to
provide information on these compounds for evaluation of their potential threat to environmental and
human health. To accomplish this goal, the
research activities of this
project are to: (1) develop analytical methods to measure chemicals and
microorganisms or their genes in a variety of matrices (e.g. water, sediment, waste) down to trace
levels, (2) determine the environmental occurrence of these potential contaminants,
(3) characterize the myriad of sources and source pathways that determine
contaminant release to the environment, (4) define and quantify processes that determine their
transport and fate through the environment, and (5) identify potential
ecologic effects from exposure to these chemicals or microorganisms. Project
research on emerging contaminants is being conducted within these five areas. The following links
provide more detailed information.
- Analytical Methods Development
- Environmental Occurrence
- Sources and Source Pathways
- Transport and Fate
- Ecological Effects
Emerging Contaminant Headlines
Meetings and Conferences
- Occurrence of contaminants of emerging concern along the California coast (2009-10) using passive sampling devices: Alvarez, D.A., Maruya, K.A., Dodder, N.G., Lao, W., Furlong, E.T., and Smalling, K.L., Marine Pollution Bulletin, no. 0, doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2013.04.022 (IN PRESS).
- Water reuse and emerging contaminants in the aquatic environment: Barber, L.B., in Ahuja, S., ed., Comprehensive Water Quality and Purification, Elsevier, ISBN:9780123821829 (IN PRESS).
- Presence of the corexit component dioctylsulfosuccinate in Gulf of Mexico water after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill: Gray, J.L., Kanagy, L.K., Furlong, E.T., Kanagy, C.J., McCoy, J.W., Mason, A., and Lauenstein, G., Chemosphere (IN PRESS).
- The Mussel Watch California pilot study on contaminants of emerging concern (CECs)--Synthesis and next steps: Maruya, K.A., Dodder, N.G., Weisberg, S.B., Gregorio, D., Bishop, J.S., Klosterhaus, S., Alvarez, D.A., Furlong, E.T., Bricker, S., Kimbrough, K.L., and Lauenstein, G.G., Marine Pollution Bulletin, doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2013.04.023 (IN PRESS).
- Presence of the Corexit component dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate in Gulf of Mexico waters after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill: Gray, J.L., Kanagy, L.K., Furlong, E.T., Kanagy, C.J., McCoy, J.W., Mason, A., and Lauenstein, G., Chemosphere, doi:10.1016/j.chemosphere.2013.08.049 (IN PRESS).
- A review on cylindrospermopsin--The global occurrence, detection, toxicity and degradation of a potent cyanotoxin: de la Cruz, A.A., Hiskia, A., Kaloudis, T., Chernoff, N., Hill, D., Antoniou, M.G., He, X., Loftin, K., O'Shea, K., Zhao, C., Pelaez, M., Han, C., Lynch, T.J., and Dionysiou, D.D., 2013, Environmental Science--Processes and Impacts, doi:10.1039/C3EM00353A.
- Occurrence and partitioning of antibiotic compounds found in the water column and bottom sediments from a stream receiving two wastewater treatment plant effluents in northern New Jersey, 2008: Gibs, J., Heckathorn, H.A., Meyer, M.T., Klapinski, F.R., Alebus, M., and Lippincott, R.L., 2013, Science of the Total Environment, v. 458-460, p. 107-16, doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.03.076.
- Transport and fate of microbial pathogens in agricultural settings: Bradford, S.A., Morales, V.L., Zhang, W., Harvey, R.W., Packman, A.I., Mohanram, A., and Welty, C., 2013, Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology, v. 43, no. 8, p. 775-893, doi:10.1080/10643389.2012.710449.
- An isotope-dilution standard GC/MS/MS method for steroid hormones in water (Chapter 4): Foreman, W.T., Gray, J.L., ReVello, R.C., Lindley, C.E., and Losche, S.A., 2013, in Cobb, G.P., and Smith, P.N., eds., Evaluating Veterinary Pharmaceutical Behavior in the Environment: Washington, D.C., American Chemical Society 1126, p. 57-136.
- Dynamics of fecal indicator bacteria, bacterial pathogen genes, and organic wastewater contaminants in the Little Calumet River--Portage Burns Waterway, Indiana: Haack, S.K., and Duris, J.W., 2013, Journal of Great Lakes Research, v. 39, no. 2, p. 317-326, doi:10.1016/j.jglr.2013.03.015.
- Chemical contaminants in water and sediment near fish nesting sites in the Potomac River Basin--Determining potential exposures to smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu): Kolpin, D.W., Blazer, V.S., Gray, J.L., Focazio, M.J., Young, J.A., Alvarez, D.A., Iwanowicz, L.R., Foreman, W.T., Furlong, E.T., Speiran, G.K., Zaugg, S.D., Hubbard, L.E., Meyer, M.T., Sandstrom, M.W., and Barber, L.B., 2013, Science of the Total Environment, v. 443, p. 700-716, doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.09.063.
- Managing the effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals in wastewater-impacted streams (Chapter 1): Bradley, P.M., and Kolpin, D.W., 2013 in Bradley, P.M., ed., Current Perspectives in Contaminant Hydrology and Water Resources Sustainability, New York, InTech, ISBN:9789535110460.
- Persistence and potential effects of complex organic contaminant mixtures in wastewater-impacted streams: Barber, L.B., Keefe, S.H., Brown, G.K., Furlong, E.T., Gray, J.L., Kolpin, D.W., Meyer, M.T., Sandstrom, M.W., and Zaugg, S.D., 2013, Environmental Science and Technology, v. 47, no. 5, p. 2177-2188, doi:10.1021/es303720g.
Select Information on Emerging Contaminant Research Outside the Toxic Substances Hydrology
- Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs),
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- Pharmaceuticals and
Personal Care Products (PPCPs) as Environmental Pollutants, National Exposure Research Laboratory,
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- Pharmaceuticals in the Environment, Information for
Assessing Risk (PEIAR) Project, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Resistance, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Materials of Emerging Regulatory Interest Team
(MERIT), Emerging Contaminants Directorate, Department of Defense (The official DoD source
for emerging contaminants information)
- EU-Project Poseidon, Assessment of
Technologies for the Removal of Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products in Sewage and
Drinking Water Facilities to Improve the Indirect Potable Water Reuse, European Union