Contaminants render a place or substance unusable. For example, a sewage leak into the local drinking water supply would result in a boil order because the water is unusable for drinking unless it is boiled first. Contaminants can be organic, inorganic, living, or not living. Emerging contaminants are a type of contaminant in which the potential for adverse effects on the environment or human health was not previously known or little is known about the contaminant.

ISTC researchers have been at the forefront of anticipating emerging contaminants. In addition, researchers are studying novel ways to treat or prevent contaminants from entering the environment. ISTC has a history of providing grants and conducting research related to heavily contaminated wildlife areas as a result of former industrial practices, such as at the Lake Calumet area near Chicago.

A few of the contaminants that ISTC is currently researching in a variety of media, such as water, soil, and animal tissue, include:

  • Metals
  • Metalworking Fluids
  • Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs)
  • Pesticides and Herbicides
  • Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs)
  • Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs)
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
dirty black water flowing into an industial cannal  toxic water from mining