Contaminants of Emerging Concern
Program activities are summarized below and in the:
What work is carried out in this program?
The work of Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CEC) program staff includes identifying contaminants of emerging concern, selecting chemicals for in-depth research ('screening'), and completing evaluations that result in drinking water guidance and information about exposure. Every two years, staff screen twenty chemicals and provide guidance for up to ten chemicals.
MDH also works with contractors to carry out specialized research to support the work of the program. Contracts with experts are one way of collecting new data, developing new methods in risk assessment, and developing new models and tools to improve risk assessment for emerging concerns. Refer to the Special Projects page for more information.
Finally, staff communicate the results of the work. This includes summarizing key findings on web pages and presenting findings to other state agencies and the public in a variety of meetings and events. MDH staff share new methods and the results of the program with federal, state, and academic partners across the country and collaborate with these partners on work that can improve everyone's understanding of emerging contaminants.
How are chemicals selected?
MDH has established an ongoing chemical nomination process (refer to the Nominate Contaminants page). Minnesota risk managers, stakeholders, and the public are encouraged to nominate contaminants. MDH program staff identify additional candidate chemicals through our research and work with stakeholders. Health and exposure criteria are used to evaluate and prioritize nominated chemicals (refer to the decision tree). For additional information on selected chemicals, refer to the Contaminant Guidance page.
How are chemicals evaluated?
Program staff research where and how a contaminant is used in the state, its potential to enter the water supply, and its toxicity to humans. If there is sufficient information on health effects, staff calculate a contaminant water concentration that is not harmful to people ("guidance"). However, for some contaminants, the information is too limited. In this case, the guidance may describe the hazard posed by the chemical instead of a certain level in water. Staff will research and provide guidance for ten contaminants each biennium of the program.
Reviews of chemicals consist of (1) an exposure review, documenting the typical uses of the chemical and where releases are likely to occur (in coordination with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), and other parties with access to relevant information); and (2) a toxicological review, providing the most current information on the adverse health effects from exposure to the chemical. Refer to the Health-Based Guidance Development web page for more information on guidance development.
Who is working for this program?
The program is staffed by a team of MDH scientists with experience in exposure assessment, toxicology, and water resources. The scientists’ efforts are coordinated by a planner who works closely with other state agencies to ensure that program work fits in with the wider water quality protection activities funded by the 2008 constitutional amendment.
Who helps MDH with this work?
MDH welcomes input from, and has conducted meetings with, the public, various local, state, and federal government agencies, academic organizations, non-profit groups, industry groups, and drinking water and wastewater professional organizations. MDH has also established advisory groups, including:
- Contaminant Screening Criteria and Prioritization Development Task Group,
- Communication, Education, and Outreach Task Group, and
- Advisory Forum.
For additional information, refer to the Communication and Outreach page.
For more information
If you would like to be kept informed of our activities and notified of upcoming public meetings, subscribe to our GovDelivery email subscription service. We typically send out two or three notices per month. You may also contact us via email or telephone if you would like to ask a question or offer information about an emerging contaminant.
Go to > top