Surface waters regularly receive all kinds of contaminants with the potential to threaten ecosystem and human health. Some of these chemicals are “emerging” organic contaminants for which limited information is available, such as pharmaceuticals, compounds in personal care products, and current use pesticides. Typical loads of these anthropogenic chemicals in urban, industrial, and agricultural areas are presented in the attached figure.
To protect water quality from adverse effects due to these and other emerging contaminants, the research of our group is driven by three main objectives:
(1) to track the behavior of specific emerging contaminants in surface waters;
(2) to develop and evaluate novel cost-effective water treatment technologies based on ecological engineering principles;
(3) to develop a new application for stable isotope techniques to quantify trace levels of emerging contaminants in surface waters.
This information is vital for the development of appropriate policies and engineering solutions for use, disposal, and sustainable removal of these chemicals.