Water Magazine

Category: Emerging contaminants

This issue of the Global Water Magazine discusses important problems related to the science and policy of emerging contaminants in drinking water. The articles in this issue span a wide range of regulatory and economic problems, including impacts of “hydrofracking,” compilation of candidate compounds for regulation, and mixture risk assessment for disinfection byproducts.

Bryce Stearns, Technical Director at TestAmerica, writes “What will be the Next Big Environmental Crisis… ”, examining the historical context of today’s emerging contaminants and the potential for future problems. Mr. Stearns shows that Test America, one of the world’s largest water testing corporations, is aware of and interested in the problems associated with personal care and pharmaceutical products, persistent organic pollutants, and other increasingly important environmental challenges.

Alan Roberson, Director of Federal Relations at the American Water Works Association, discusses "Three new shifts in drinking water policy." These shifts are: regulation of grouped, as opposed to individual, contaminants; availability of improved analytical methods which can potentially drive down regulatory standards; and the impact of new health effects data on drinking water standards. Mr. Roberson's article is an insightful look into the use of peer-reviewed science in forming US drinking water standards. These shifts may have important implications for drinking water treatment, and this look into the industry's view of these policy shifts may prove invaluable to our readers.

Tracy Bank, Assistant Professor of Geology at the University of Buffalo, writes about "Fluid rock interactions associated with hydraulic fracturing and natural gas development in the Marcellus Shale." Dr. Bank addresses a very timely topic due to technological advances improving the economics of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas recovery. As shale drilling for natural gas intensifies, investigations such as Dr. Bank's examination of the potential for mobilization of heavy metals into public waterways become increasingly important.

Royce Francis, Assistant Professor of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering at The George Washington University, writes an opinion piece about the potential of "Bromine incorporation fraction use for regulating disinfection byproducts." He discusses the challenges associated with disinfection byproduct chemical mixture risk assessment and regulation. Dr. Francis then discusses the possibility that the bromine incorporation fraction might be used to refine disinfection byproduct regulations. Although there are important obstacles to the application of the bromine incorporation fraction as a regulatory metric, our readers may appreciate this synthesis of the challenges involved in selecting a surrogate risk measure for regulation.

This is an exciting issue presenting our readers with important topics of economic and regulatory concern regarding emerging contaminants. We hope our readers find these discussions at the science-policy interface of water policy informative and engaging. We encourage our readers to use the online forum of the magazine to engage in discussion about further questions or insights by leaving comments on the articles.