DEEP: Emerging Contaminants

Emerging Contaminants
According to EPA, an emerging contaminant is a chemical or material characterized by a perceived, potential, or real threat to human health or the environment or by a lack of published health standards.  A contaminant also may be "emerging" because of the discovery of a new source or a new pathway to humans.
The Remediation Standard Regulations do not contain numeric cleanup standards for emerging contaminants, but do require remediation using the procedures for Additional Polluting Substances (APS).  Regulated parties and their environmental professionals should consider whether emerging contaminants are constituents of concern when evaluating Phase I information and test for those emerging contaminants where warranted.  Doing so will help avoid uncertainty, audits, and further work in the future.  If emerging contaminants are detected, please contact the Department in advance of submitting APS criteria approval to clarify any issues.
 Where are they found?
 Analytic Method/Media/Notes
  • Associated with chlorinated solvent contamination
  • Stabilizer for TCA, possibly other chlorinated solvents
  • Cellulose acetate membrane filters
  • Pharmaceutical industry
  • Laboratories
  • Car wash concentrated soaps
  • Scintillation counting cocktails/ Bray’s Solution
  • Histology tissue preservative
  • Brominated flame retardants 
  • Textiles
  • Pulp, paper, and fiber manufacture, especially coated paper
  • Magnetic tape production
  • Inks and printing
  • Painting, coating and stripping
  • Polymers, plastics, and rubber
  • Loosening agent for hardware
  • Dyes, greases, varnishes and waxes
  • Byproduct of PET plastic, ethoxylated surfactant, resin, and antifreeze production
  • Aircraft deicing fluid
  • Personal care products
  • Landfills
  • EPA Method 522 – drinking water
  • Modified EPA Method 8260 or 8270 with SIM
  • Completely soluble 
  • Leaches readily from soil to groundwater and migrates rapidly
  • Pure product is volatile, but does not volatilize once in solution
(per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances)
  • Firefighting foams (AFFF)
  • Airports, crash sites
  • Fire training areas
  • Oil refineries, bulk fuel storage areas
  • Building fire suppression systems
  • Used for water, oil, and stain repellency in textiles, carpets, and leather
  • Non-stick coating applications
  • Paper coating & food containers
  • Chrome plating, possibly other plating
  • Landfills
  • EPA Method 537.1 – drinking water
  • ASTM D7968-17a Standard Test Method for Determination of Polyfluorinated Compounds in Soil by Liquid Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC/MS/MS)
  • ASTM D7979-17  Standard Test Method for Determination of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Water, Sludge, Influent, Effluent and Wastewater by Liquid Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC/MS/MS)
  • Mobile, persistent
  • Deposition of airborne emissions can be a source of groundwater pollution
  • Military sites – ammunition and rocket fuel
  • Associated with nitrates and explosives, solvents or metals
  • Pyrotechnics (fireworks), grenades, signals and flares, black powder and airbag initiators
  • EPA Methods 314/331/332 for water
  • EPA SW-846 Methods 6850/6860
  • Sample both surface and deep soil and test adjacent surface and groundwater
  • Used in manufacture of sunscreens, cosmetics, sporting goods, stain resistant clothing, tires and electronics
  • Medical diagnosis, imaging and drug delivery
  • Varied by components
  • Migrates with groundwater and accumulates in soil, surface water and groundwater
(Pharmaceuticals and personal care products)
  • Lotions and creams, fragrances, cosmetics
  • Insect repellants
  • OTC pharmaceuticals and prescription pharmaceuticals
  • Medical care facilities
  • EPA Method 1694
  • Sample multiple mediums and locations due to different chemistries and migration patterns
Disclaimer:  Table is provided for general information purposes only.  New information about emerging contaminants should be expected, as research is ongoing.  You are advised to complete your own research to determine whether emerging contaminants are contaminants of concern at a particular site.
General Information on Chemicals of Emerging Concern
CT DPH Groundwater and Well Contamination - includes PFAS, 1,4-dioxane, and perchlorate
USGS Contaminants of Emerging Concern in the Environment - numerous links, including many  regarding ecological concerns
EPA Emerging Contaminants and Federal Facility Contaminants of Concern - links to EPA technical fact sheets about various chemicals
DEEP Remediation Roundtable: June 21, 2016 Presentations on Emerging Contaminants - Emerging Contaminants Survey Results and CT DPH Emerging Contaminants Update
MA DEP Emerging Contaminants - MA initiatives on emerging contaminants
MA DEP Emerging Contaminant-Related Toxics Research & Resources - Toxics Use Reduction Program
CA Dept. of Toxic Substances Control Emerging Chemicals of Concern - numerous health and environmental links regarding emerging chemicals of concern
EPA CLU-IN Contaminant Focus - links to information about specific emerging contaminants
EPA CLU-IN Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Overview - information on POPs, some of which are emerging contaminants
NJ Drinking Water Quality Institute  – links to technical information on regulating PFOA, PFNA, and perchlorate in drinking water
SERDP-ESTCP Tools and Training - Dept. of Defense Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program-Environmental Security Technology Certification Program videos, webinars, and guidance documents
EPA CLU-IN 1,4-Dioxane Overview - numerous state and federal links regarding all aspects of 1,4-dioxane
MN 1,4-Dioxane in Drinking Water (PDF) - general information
MA Fact Sheet Guidance on Sampling and Analysis for 1,4-Dioxane at Disposal Sites Regulated under the Massachusetts Contingency Plan - DEEP concurs with the information provided in the Sampling/Analysis portion of the Fact Sheet. However, the information in this factsheet should be thoughtfully considered by the LEP with respect to Connecticut’s statutes, regulations, and standard of care.
Per- and Polyfluorinated Alkyl Substances (PFASs)
DEEP PFAS Fact Sheet - Concise description of issues regarding PFAS
DPH Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances - Health information, well treatment options, and CT approved labs for PFAS analysis.
CT DPH Groundwater and Well Contamination - PFAS Drinking Water Action Level, PFAS in Drinking Water: Health Concerns, and PFAS: What Should I Do If Detected in My Private Well
EPA Drinking Water Health Advisories for PFOA and PFOS - both basic information and technical information
Department of the Navy PFC/PFAS webpage - information on all aspects of PFASs, especially firefighting foams
NEWMOA PFAS Project webpage - includes links to presentations and information from member states
National Institutes of Health: Perfluorinated Chemicals - general health information regarding PFASs
CLU-IN Perchlorate Overview - numerous state and federal links regarding all aspects of perchlorate
EPA Perchlorate Page - contaminant profile and regulatory information
ITRC Perchlorate Page - links to technical documents and web-based training on remediation
EPA Research on Nanomaterials - information regarding which nanomaterials EPA is researching and why, as well as links to other nanomaterial research
National Institutes of Health: Nanomaterials - general health information regarding nanomaterials
Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs)
Please note: Surface water bodies to which sewage effluent is discharged are not used for drinking water in the State of Connecticut, limiting certain exposures referenced in some pages listed below.
EPA Contaminants of Emerging Concern including Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products - general information and information regarding aquatic life
NEIWPCC Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) - information from the NEIWPCC PPCP Workgroup and links to federal, state, and regional resources
CA Dept. of Toxic Substances Control Toxicological Issues Associated With PPCPs - general information
Occurrence of Unregulated Compounds in Surface Waters, Ground Waters and Public Drinking Water Supplies in NJ - general information and links to NJ studies of PPCPs in water
Content Last Updated August 8, 2019