Constituents of Emerging Concern: An Overview

Emerging constituents of concern have been with us from the beginning of the environmental era 45 years ago. They were behind the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act. They are behind our struggle with disinfection byproducts. They were behind the development of the 129 (126) priority pollutants. They were behind RCRA and the Superfund. Now they are “emerging” as endocrine disruptors, pharmaceuticals, personal care products, persistent organic pollutants, etc. The issue will never be settled science, because it is emerging science. As a result it is important that we find a way to organize our regulatory policies and priorities so that they are more suitable for implementation in the context of immature science. Closer examination of the precautionary approach seems a good way to start.

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