Designing monitoring programs for chemicals of emerging concern in potable reuse – what to include and what not to include?

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This study discussed a proposed process to prioritize chemicals for reclaimed water monitoring programs, selection of analytical methods required for their quantification, toxicological relevance of chemicals of emerging concern regarding human health, and related issues. Given that thousands of chemicals are potentially present in reclaimed water and that information about those chemicals is rapidly evolving, a transparent, science-based framework was developed to guide prioritization of which compounds of emerging concern (CECs) should be included in reclaimed water monitoring programs. The recommended framework includes four steps: (1) compile environmental concentrations (e.g., measured environmental concentration or MEC) of CECs in the source water for reuse projects; (2) develop a monitoring trigger level (MTL) for each of these compounds (or groups thereof) based on toxicological relevance; (3) compare the environmental concentration (e.g., MEC) to the MTL; CECs with a MEC/MTL ratio greater than 1 should be prioritized for monitoring, compounds with a ratio less than ‘1’ should only be considered if they represent viable treatment process performance indicators; and (4) screen the priority list to ensure that a commercially available robust analytical method is available for that compound.

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