GBA Emerging Contaminants Spotlight – June 2018

GBA Emerging Contaminants Spotlight – June 2018


Emerging contaminants are being referenced in the news more frequently and impacting many public and private entities.  It is imperative that geoprofessional businesses providing environmental consulting services, stay on the emerging contaminants issues.  Currently, EPA defines emerging contaminants as representing “unique and challenging environmental aspects”.  With the addition of thousands of new chemical formulations coming to market every year, and emerging laboratory testing methods, geoprofessionals are faced with evaluating and remediating contaminants more rapidly and differently than the past 48 years since RCRA and TSCA began.

How do emerging contaminants affect the environment?

Emerging contaminants represent a wide range of different compounds and materials that are gaining regulatory attention for how they affect the environment. Per-fluorinated compounds (i.e. PFAs, PFOAs, PBBs) are extremely difficult to treat and the current advisory toxicity levels are measured in the parts per trillion (ppt).  This is analogous to detecting a single granule of sugar in an Olympic swimming pool.  The effect on human health and the environment is long term, difficult to assess and costly to remediate.  Other emerging contaminants (i.e. microbeads and personal care product residuals) may not be treated successfully with conventional waste water treatment processes which may require water and wastewater treatment plants to add new treatment processes and require facility expansions.

How does this affect my geoprofessional consulting business?

Geoprofessional consulting firms that are educated in the potential effects of emerging contaminants are better positioned to support clients including municipalities, water and wastewater treatment facilities and private industry who may be impacted by the release(s) of the new contaminants to the environment.

Each month, the Environmental Business Council of the GBA will spotlight a different group of emerging contaminants and discuss the evolving regulations and provide up-to-date knowledge of environmental contaminant distribution and the EPA’s position on them. GBA’s spotlight on emerging contaminants will help you and your clients stay ahead of this rapidly developing market so you will be smarter, stronger, and more successful.