Global Water Magazine

Emerging Contaminants

This issue of the Global Water Magazine discusses important problems related to the science and policy of emerging contaminants in drinking water. The articles in this issue span a wide range of regulatory and economic problems, including impacts of “hydrofracking,” compilation of candidate compounds for regulation, and mixture risk assessment for disinfection byproducts.

Bryce Stearns, Technical Director at TestAmerica, writes “What will be the Next Big Environmental Crisis… ”, examining the historical context of today’s emerging contaminants and the potential for future problems. Mr. Stearns shows that Test America, one of the world’s largest water testing corporations, is aware of and interested in the problems associated with personal care and pharmaceutical products, persistent organic pollutants, and other increasingly important environmental challenges.

Alan Roberson, Director of Federal Relations at the American Water Works Association, discusses "Three new shifts in drinking water policy." These shifts are: regulation of grouped, as opposed to individual, contaminants; availability of improved analytical methods which can potentially drive down regulatory standards; and the impact of new health effects data on drinking water standards. Mr. Roberson's article is an insightful look into the use of peer-reviewed science in forming US drinking water standards. These shifts may have important implications for drinking water treatment, and this look into the industry's view of these policy shifts may prove invaluable to our readers.

Tracy Bank, Assistant Professor of Geology at the University of Buffalo, writes about "Fluid rock interactions associated with hydraulic fracturing and natural gas development in the Marcellus Shale." Dr. Bank addresses a very timely topic due to technological advances improving the economics of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas recovery. As shale drilling for natural gas intensifies, investigations such as Dr. Bank's examination of the potential for mobilization of heavy metals into public waterways become increasingly important.

Royce Francis, Assistant Professor of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering at The George Washington University, writes an opinion piece about the potential of "Bromine incorporation fraction use for regulating disinfection byproducts." He discusses the challenges associated with disinfection byproduct chemical mixture risk assessment and regulation. Dr. Francis then discusses the possibility that the bromine incorporation fraction might be used to refine disinfection byproduct regulations. Although there are important obstacles to the application of the bromine incorporation fraction as a regulatory metric, our readers may appreciate this synthesis of the challenges involved in selecting a surrogate risk measure for regulation.

This is an exciting issue presenting our readers with important topics of economic and regulatory concern regarding emerging contaminants. We hope our readers find these discussions at the science-policy interface of water policy informative and engaging. We encourage our readers to use the online forum of the magazine to engage in discussion about further questions or insights by leaving comments on the articles.

 

Editors of Emerging Contaminants

Member Photo

Luke MacDonald
Assistant Director
Environmental Health Sciences
Founding Editor
lmacdona@jhsph.edu

Member Photo

Betsy Denning
Administrative Coordinator
Environmental Health Sciences
Managing Editor
edenning@jhsph.edu

Member Photo

Royce Francis
Editor
Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering
Postdoctoral Fellow
royce.francis@jhu.edu

Articles in Emerging Contaminants

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Opinion

Emerging Contaminants

What will be the Next Big Environmental Crisis and Are We Seeing Glimpses of It Now?

In today’s world the environmental analytical community faces some significant challenges when it comes to its role in safe-guarding water quality. These challenges include the demand for lower levels of detection and the inclusion of non-standard classes of emerging chemical contaminates which have not been previously evaluated. These challenges push the edge of the envelope on the capabilities of current technology while at the same time asking it to cover even more chemical compounds. This new emergent class of compounds is starting to outstrip the analytical communities ability to keep pace.

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Opinion

Emerging Contaminants

Three New Shifts in Drinking Water Policy

This paper summarizes the evolution of both the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and the resultant regulations. This paper provides some details on three recent policy shifts in the development of national drinking water regulations.

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Opinion

Emerging Contaminants

Fluid Rock Interactions Associated with Hydraulic Fracturing and Natural Gas Development

The extent of the environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing of the Marcellus Shale is not well known. What is known, however, is that drilling and “fracking” of the Marcellus shale causes fluid-rock interactions that have the potential to mobilize metals that are naturally enriched in the shale. While the concentrations of these metals are low, their mobilization into waters that may eventually enter publically owned wastewater treatment facilities, is cause for further study.

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Opinion

Emerging Contaminants

Can the bromine incorporation fraction be useful for regulating disinfection byproducts?

This opinion article discusses the challenges associated with disinfection byproduct (DBP) chemical mixture risk assessment and regulation. Although awareness of DBPs has guided drinking water disinfection for over 40 years, increasing concern about potential health impacts of non-regulated DBPs, especially bromine-containing DBPs, has emerged. Here, we discuss how a measure of bromine incorporation into a DBP mixture, the bromine incorporation fraction (BIF), might be used to refine DBP regulations.

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