South Atlantic Water Science Center - South Carolina
SOUTH CAROLINA PROJECTS
ABOUT THE SOUTH ATLANTIC WSC - SOUTH CAROLINA
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Environmental Fate and Transport of Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CEC)
Project Chief: email@example.com
The contaminants of historical environmental focus (conventional priority pollutants) are a small fraction of the known and unknown chemicals that are potential environmental contaminants. Many of these “emerging” contaminants have been in use and, by extension, have been present in the environment for many years. However, they typically occur in the environment at concentrations well below historical ppb to ppm analytical detection limits. Consequently, the environmental impacts of these contaminants have gone largely unrecognized or undefined, due to a lack of analytical methods of sufficient sensitivity and resolution to allow detection at environmentally relevant concentrations.
The potential impacts of contaminants of emerging concern (CEC) on the environment, in general, and on natural surface-water and riparian ecosystems, in particular, are a critical environmental management issue in the U.S. and Europe. CEC is a “catch-all” phrase that refers to a wide range of chemicals, which occurrence in and potential impacts on the environment have long been suspected but only recently validated with the advent of sensitive modern analytical capabilities. The CEC umbrella covers several broad classes of contaminants that include: pharmaceuticals and personal care products, organic wastewater compounds, antimicrobials, antibiotics, animal and human hormones, as well as domestic and industrial detergents.
Project assesses the fate, transport, and potential for in situ biodegradation of CEC, which are detected in U.S. surface-water systems as a result of residential, industrial, and agricultural wastewater releases. A long-term, systematic research approach is employed to provide a scientific foundation for using the environment’s intrinsic assimilative capacity to manage CEC environmental risk. Research focuses on the potential for and mechanisms of biodegradation for a wide range of CEC in wastewater-impacted surface water systems. Understanding the fate of diverse classes of CEC is a crucial element of the Toxic Substances Hydrology Program and vital to the management of the environmental health risks of these anthropogenic substances. Continued assessment of the potential for CEC biodegradation is required to develop best management practices for individual surface-water systems and specific compound classes. Current research priorities include evaluating the biodegradation potential for: 1) select waste water indicator compounds, 2) the nonionic surfactant and demonstrated non-steroidal endocrine-disrupting compound, 4-nonylphenol; 3) the human sex hormones, estrone, estradiol, and testosterone; 4) the antibacterial, triclocarban; and 5) the endocrine disrupter, bisphenol‑A.
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