A chemical prioritization process: Applications to contaminants of emerging concern in freshwater ecosystems (Phase I)

Jessica R. Deere, Summer Streets, Mark D. Jankowski, Mark Ferrey, Yvette Chenaux-Ibrahim, Matteo Convertino, E. J. Isaac, Nicholas B.D. Phelps, Alexander Primus, Joseph L. Servadio, Randall S. Singer, Dominic A. Travis, Seth Moore, Tiffany M. Wolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Contaminants of emerging concern (CECs), such as pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and hormones, are frequently found in aquatic ecosystems around the world. Information on sublethal effects from exposure to commonly detected concentrations of CECs is lacking and the limited availability of toxicity data makes it difficult to interpret the biological significance of occurrence data. However, the ability to evaluate the effects of CECs on aquatic ecosystems is growing in importance, as detection frequency increases. The goal of this study was to prioritize the chemical hazards of 117 CECs detected in subsistence species and freshwater ecosystems on the Grand Portage Indian Reservation and adjacent 1854 Ceded Territory in Minnesota, USA. To prioritize CECs for management actions, we adapted Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Aquatic Toxicity Profiles framework, a tool for the rapid assessment of contaminants to cause adverse effects on aquatic life by incorporating chemical-specific information. This study aimed to 1) perform a rapid-screening assessment and prioritization of detected CECs based on their potential environmental hazard; 2) identify waterbodies in the study region that contain high priority CECs; and 3) inform future monitoring, assessment, and potential remediation in the study region. In water samples alone, 50 CECs were deemed high priority. Twenty-one CECs were high priority among sediment samples and seven CECs were high priority in fish samples. Azithromycin, DEET, diphenhydramine, fluoxetine, miconazole, and verapamil were high priority in all three media. Due to the presence of high priority CECs throughout the study region, we recommend future monitoring of particular CECs based on the prioritization method used here. We present an application of a chemical hazard prioritization process and identify areas where the framework may be adapted to meet the objectives of other management-related assessments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number146030
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Jun 10 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the Grand Portage Reservation Tribal Council and Tony Swader for their continued support of this ongoing research. Funding support comes from University of Minnesota (UMN) College of Veterinary Medicine's Population Systems Signature Program, UMN Agriculture Experiment Station Research Funds (MIN-62-061), UMN MnDRIVE Global Food Ventures , UMN Informatics Institute MnDRIVE , the Environmental Protection Agency 's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, and the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (M.L. 2017, Chp. 96, Sec. 2, Subd. 04g). This work is not a product of the U.S. Government or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the author (M.D.J.) is not engaged in this work in any governmental capacity. The views expressed are those of the author only and do not necessarily represent those of the U.S. Government or the EPA.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • Aquatic toxicity profiles
  • Chemicals of emerging concern
  • Hazard identification
  • Hazard ranking
  • Indigenous peoples
  • Pollutants

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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