“Two North Metro Cities scramble to upgrade water plants to filter out emerging contaminant” this Minneapolis Star Tribune headline of June 20, 2016 is just one example of how emerging contaminants, in this case 1,4-dioxane, are impacting drinking water in the United States. While the discovery of new contaminants may seem altogether negative, the term “emerging contaminant” is really a testament to the remediation community’s vigilance in making our environment safer.
An emerging contaminant can be defined as a chemical that is a probable or real threat to human health or the environment, with a lack of published health standards, and for which new sources or exposure pathways are discovered. The fact that we continue to identify new risks and better ways to measure and remediate these compounds is evidence we are moving forward to a safer and heathier world.
While the list of emerging contaminants is long, the focus at the Emerging Contaminants Summit held in winter of 2016 in Westminster, Colorado was on 1,4-dioxane, and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) with 1,2,3-trichloropropane (TCP) also figuring prominently. These compounds are significant in their widespread use, potential for human health impacts and frequent detection in groundwater.
This issue of Remediation Pathways focuses on applied developments in the remediation of these key emerging contaminants. SiREM is active in remediation activities for these compounds through:
- Development of 1,4-dioxane degrading bioaugmentation cultures;
- Molecular testing for 1,4-dioxane biodegradation targets;
- Development of TCP bioaugmentation cultures; and
- Treatability testing for PFAS compounds.
While the challenge is significant, let’s not forget it wasn’t that long ago that chlorinated solvents in groundwater were considered an almost insurmountable problem. They are now routinely remediated. We look forward to today’s list of emerging contaminants yielding to similar progress.
Your Partner in Remediation Success, SiREM