211174 Overview of USGS research on emerging contaminants

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 8:32 AM

Herbert T. Buxton , Toxic Substances Hydrology Program, United States Geological Survey, Trenton, NJ
Chemicals of emerging environmental concern, sometimes referred to as emerging contaminants (ECs) include a wide range of chemicals used in our home and businesses. Many are key ingredients to public health and quality of life. It is important to study these chemicals comprehensively because: (1) they are found to co-occur in common environmental settings, and (2) they may interact in a manner that affects living organisms.

These ECs can be concentrated in the waste stream and enter the environment via a wide range of source pathways, including wastewater treatment plants, on-site septic systems, animal waste releases, and land application of biosolids and manure. They are found commonly in complex low-level mixtures in streams and wells. Although some ECs have been found to have adverse ecological health effects, information is limited in both species and chemicals tested, and knowledge of effects of chronic exposure to the low-level mixtures found in the environment is virtually nil. Furthermore, sparse data on drinking water indicate reduction or removal of many ECs, but some persist.

Research challenges include: evaluating environmental settings where levels may be elevated, assessing potential effects of exposure of nontarget organisms (especially sensitive species and subpopulations), evaluating the performance of alternative wastewater and drinking water treatment technologies, and characterizing in more detail potential human exposure through public and domestic water supplies. In addition, systematic research on the highest priority chemicals and environmental settings is warranted so as to inform further decisionmaking and guide future research.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the current state of knowledge of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in the environment, including instreams, groundwater, and soils susceptible to contamination. 2. Describe the major sources of PPCPs in the environment. 3. Identify current research needs associated with PPCPs.

Keywords: Emerging Health Issues, Environmental Exposures

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have authored numerous scientific reports, including this topic. I manage the USGS Toxics Program (water quality research program). I have given numerous presentations on this topic at professional meetings. I have testified before Congress on this topic.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.