Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CEC): An Early Warning Sign

Beakers. Photo credit: Africa Studios / Shutterstock

People and industry use tens of thousands of chemicals. A vast array of these chemicals have been found in our environment, where we consider them contaminants of emerging concern or CECs. Most of these CECs have not been fully evaluated for the risks they might pose to the environment— or to our health.

The CEC Program is an initiative led by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).  MDH collaborates with partners and the public to identify contaminants of interest; investigates the health and exposure potential of CEC in water; and informs partners and the public of appropriate actions for pollution prevention and reducing exposures to contaminants that might be unhealthy.

The CEC initiative is an early warning system that provides pollution prevention for our drinking water. CEC’s  includes any unregulated synthetic or naturally occurring chemical and any microorganism that invades in the environment where it does not belong. CECs are items detected at low levels in surface water that are expected to cause harm. Contaminants include pharmaceuticals, pesticides, industrial effluents, and personal care products.

How contaminants (chemicals) are evaluated: Contaminant Selection Process

The Health Risk Assessment Unit at MDH is updating the processes for selecting contaminants to develop health-based guidance values in the CEC Initiative. The CEC initiative includes citizen-submitted nominations in our chemical selection process. You can nominate contaminants for consideration by visiting the Nominate Contaminants page. In addition, Minnesota risk managers, stakeholders, and the public are encouraged to nominate contaminants. MDH staff identify additional candidate chemicals through our research and outreach with stakeholders. Health and exposure criteria are used to evaluate and prioritize nominated chemicals. The goal of the CEC initiative is to evaluate (screen) at least ten nominated chemicals every year to identify chemicals for guidance development.

To nominate a contaminate use this form: https://survey.vovici.com/se/56206EE31C3C546B

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