Contaminants of Emerging Concern
Introduction

Contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) are chemicals that have entered the environment through human activities. They have been detected in humans or other living organisms and have been found to persist in the environment, but are not routinely monitored for and are currently unregulated. Examples include phthalates, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), brominated flame retardants (PBDEs), nanoparticles, and pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs).

Although most of these compounds have been detected in surface waters at very low concentrations, there is concern about how CECs impact drinking water and the river's ecology. Increased interest in these substances and their toxic effects by scientists, the public, and regulators is occurring due to improved analytical methods and a growing body of information on the adverse effects of CECs. Therefore, it is important to understand their presence, sources, source pathways, persistence, fate, and how they degrade in surface water.

A number of efforts have been undertaken within the Delaware River Basin to identify, understand, and prioritize CECs, including a three year effort by DRBC to investigate the presence and concentration of PPCPs, PFASs, and PBDEs in the ambient waters of the tidal Delaware River. This pilot monitoring survey concluded in 2009; the report is linked below.

In February 2013, DRBC and the Water and Environmental Technology (WET) Center at Temple University - a National Science Foundation Industry & University Cooperative Research Program (NSF I/UCRC) received a grant to partner on a survey to study CECs in Pennsylvania tributaries to the Delaware River. Tributaries being surveyed include the Neshaminy, Perkiomen, and Wissahickon creeks and the Schuylkill River. The survey is being funded by the Pennsylvania Water Resources Research Center and Pennsylvania Sea Grant. Ten sampling sites are proposed to be surveyed in an area of southeastern Pennsylvania with numerous municipal and industrial discharges to surface water. The chosen sampling locations are above and below potential source discharges for CECs in streams draining to the tidal Delaware River. The survey began in March 2013 and was completed in March 2014; samples are currently being analyzed and a final report will be prepared. View sampling photos on Flickr.

Presentations and Reports

The below presentations and reports are by DRBC staff or given at DRBC advisory committee meetings.

Perfluorinated Chemicals: Emerging Drinking Water Contaminants (pdf 5.3 MB) - Presented by Gloria Post, Ph.D., DABT, N.J. Dept. of Environmental Protection, at the June 5, 2013 Toxics Advisory Committee (TAC) Meeting

Presentation on Contaminants of Emerging Concern in the Tidal Delaware River: Pilot Monitoring Survey 2007-2009 (Delaware River Basin Source Water Collaborative Webinar - Sept. 2012) (pdf 3.9 MB)

Updated. Contaminants of Emerging Concern in the Tidal Delaware River: Pilot Monitoring Survey 2007-2009 (pdf 1.5 MB; revised August 2013) Please Note: There may be difficulties when viewing this document using the Mozilla Firefox web browser; if applicable, please try another browser.

Emerging Contaminants in the Delaware Estuary (pdf 2 MB; presentation given at the 2011 Partnership for the Delaware Estuary's Science and Environmental Summit)

PPCPs at a Point Source (Publicly Owned Treatment Works) Discharge Before and After Tertiary Disinfection by Chlorination (pdf 2 MB; presentation given at the Nov. 2010 SETAC North America Annual Meeting)

Contaminants of Emerging Concern in the Delaware River Estuary (pdf 2 MB; presentation given at Feb. 2010 National Estuary Program Meeting)

PFCs in Fish Tissue in the Delaware River (pdf 1.4 MB; presentation given at Nov. 2009 National Forum on Contaminants in Fish)

Emerging Contaminants of Concern in the Delaware River Basin: Vulnerability Assessment Preliminary Report (pdf 322 KB; Feb. 2007)

Informational Links

Delaware Health and Social Services' Division of Public Health: Prescription Drug Disposal Information

New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs: Project Medicine Drop

New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation: Household Drug Collection Schedule

Pennsylvania Dept. of Drug and Alcohol Programs: Healthy Pennsylvania - Prescription Drug Take-Back Program

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCP)

U.S. Food and Drug Administration: How to Dispose of Unused Medicine

U.S. Geological Survey: Emerging Contaminants in the Environment