The contaminants in air, drinking water, wastewater, soils, and sewage sludge (Biosolids), and composts need to be controlled to protect the environment and public health. These contaminants include inorganic anions and cations, heavy metals, pesticides and herbicides, persistent organic pollutants, hormones, pharmaceutical products, and personal care products. Many of these contaminants are known to be harmful and are strictly regulated by the Federal and the State laws and regulations.
In addition, for many other contaminants, the health effects are not well understood, or the levels and frequencies of occurrence in our environment are not clear, or efficient analytical methods to quantify and characterize have not been available. These contaminants referred to as Contaminants of emerging concern are still under evaluation in terms of toxicity and scope.
In the U.S., water quality is legislated through the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA). Learn how the primary and secondary drinking water standards have been adopted in the U.S. for certain inorganic anions.
Inorganic cations are also often monitored in public water systems. In addition, ammonium cation is monitored in wastewater treatment plants to comply with National Pollutants Discharge Elimination system (NPDES) permits. Learn how cations are analyzed in a variety ofenvironmental applications with different techniques.
Activities such as farming, commercial fishing, energy production, manufacturing, and transportation have increased the presence of contaminants in the environment. Regulatory bodies including the US EPA and the European Commission provide guidance to restrict, reduce, and eliminate the spread of contaminants and protect against human exposure.
Metal contamination is one of the major concerns in our environment. These metals, especially toxic heavy metals, have entered our food chain and influenced our health. Learn how monitoring and analyzing these metals are cirtical to protecting public health.
The “semivolatile” contaminant grouping is composed of compounds with broad chemical properties and structural features. Sources of these compounds include pesticides and herbicides (containing phosphorus, sulfur, chlorine or nitrogen), flame retardants, ingredients in cleaning agents and personal care products, solvents and chemicals used in textile/electronic manufacturing and material manufacturing process additives.
VOCs are human-made contaminants used and produced in the processing of or as paints, adhesives, petroleum products, pharmaceuticals, and refrigerants. This includes emissions from automotive and industrial activity among other sources (USGS).