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Assessing contaminants of emerging concern in the Great Lakes Ecosystem: A decade of method development and practical application

August 29, 2023

Assessing the ecological risk of contaminants in the field typically involves consideration of a complex mixture of compounds which may or may not be detected via instrumental analyses. Further, there are insufficient data to predict the potential biological effects of many detected compounds, leading to their being characterized as contaminants of emerging concern (CECs). Over the past several years, advances in chemistry, toxicology, and bioinformatics have resulted in a variety of concepts and tools that can enhance the pragmatic assessment of the ecological risk of CECs. The present Focus article describes a 10+- year multiagency effort supported through the U.S. Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to assess the occurrence and implications of CECs in the North American Great Lakes. State-of-the-science methods and models were used to evaluate more than 700 sites in about approximately 200 tributaries across lakes Ontario, Erie, Huron, Michigan, and Superior, sometimes on multiple occasions. Studies featured measurement of up to 500 different target analytes in different environmental matrices, coupled with evaluation of biological effects in resident species, animals from in situ and laboratory exposures, and in vitro systems. Experimental taxa included birds, fish, and a variety of invertebrates, and measured endpoints ranged from molecular to apical responses. Data were integrated and evaluated using a diversity of curated knowledgebases and models with the goal of producing actionable insights for risk assessors and managers charged with evaluating and mitigating the effects of CECs in the Great Lakes. This overview is based on research and data captured in approximately about 90 peer-reviewed journal articles and reports, including approximately about 30 appearing in a virtual issue comprised of highlighted papers published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry or Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management. Environ Toxicol Chem 2023;42:2506–2518. © 2023 SETAC. This article has been contributed to by U.S. Government employees and their work is in the public domain in the USA.

Publication Year 2023
Title Assessing contaminants of emerging concern in the Great Lakes Ecosystem: A decade of method development and practical application
DOI 10.1002/etc.5740
Authors Gerald T. Ankley, Steven R. Corsi, Christine M. Custer, Drew R. Ekman, Stephanie L. Hummel, Kimani L. Kimbrough, Heiko L. Schoenfuss, Daniel L. Villeneuve
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Index ID 70250459
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center; Upper Midwest Water Science Center