septic tank sewage flows underground to contaminate well water down gradient

Contaminants render a place or substance unusable. For example, a sewage leak into the local drinking water supply would cause a boil order to go into effect because the water without boiling is unusable for drinking. Contaminants can be organic, inorganic, living or not living. Emerging contaminants are a type of contaminant where the potential for adverse effects on the environment or human health was not previously known or there is little know about the contaminant.

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

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

  • Metals
  • Metal Working Fluids
  • Pesticides and Herbicides
  • Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs)
  • Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs)
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCBs)
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
dirty black water flowing into an industial cannal  toxic water from mining