Illinois Sustainable Technology Center - University of Illinois

Lessons Learned from Two Decades of Research on Emerging Contaminants

Presented by Diana S. Aga - Professor, Department of Chemistry, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York.

September 8, 2016

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In the last twenty years, thousands of research papers covering different aspects of emerging contaminants have been published, ranging from environmental occurrence to treatment and ecological effects. Emerging contaminants are environmental pollutants that have been investigated widely only in the last 20 years, and include man-made and naturally occurring chemicals such as pharmaceuticals and personal care products and their metabolites, illicit drugs, engineered nanomaterials, and antibiotic resistance genes. The advancement in our knowledge on emerging contaminants has been the result of the appearance of highly sensitive and powerful analytical instrumentation that rapidly developed, allowing trace quantification and identification of unknown contaminants in complex environmental matrices. High efficiency chromatographic separations coupled to high-resolution mass spectrometers have become commonplace in environmental laboratories and the pillars of environmental research, increasing our understanding and awareness of the presence of emerging contaminants in the environment, their transformation and fate, and the complex ecological consequences that they pose on exposed biological systems. In this presentation an overview on key research milestones in the area of emerging contaminants, focusing on pharmaceuticals and personal care products and endocrine disrupting compounds, and highlighting some of our own research, will be presented to identify knowledge gaps and future needs where the analytical scientists and environmental engineers can contribute to advance this important area of research and provide solutions to problems related to the impacts of emerging contaminants in the environment.

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