Emerging contaminant uncertainties and policy: The chicken or the egg conundrum

Chemosphere. 2016 Jul;154:385-390. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2016.03.110. Epub 2016 Apr 11.


Best practice in regulating contaminants of emerging concern (CEC) must involve the integration of science and policy, be defensible and accepted by diverse stakeholders. Key elements of CEC frameworks include identification and prioritisation of emerging contaminants, evaluation of health and environmental impacts from key matrices such as soil, groundwater, surface waters and sediment, assessments of available data, methods and technologies (and limitations), and mechanisms to take cognisance of diverse interests. This paper discusses one of the few frameworks designed for emerging contaminants, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Drinking Water Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CEC) program. Further review of mechanisms for CECs in other jurisdictions reveals that there is only a small number of regulatory and guidance regimes globally. There is also merit in a formal mechanism for the global exchange of knowledge and outcomes associated with CECs of global interest.

Keywords: Contaminants of emerging concern; Management; Policy; Regulation; Uncertainties.

MeSH terms

  • Drinking Water / analysis*
  • Environmental Monitoring / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Groundwater / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Minnesota
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*


  • Drinking Water
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical