8.2.5
Recommendations:  Research Needs
Associated with Unmonitored Chemical
Contaminants
To further understanding of the extent of the problem of
bioactive chemicals in Great Lakes’ waters will require
action in three major areas:
greater attention must be focused on the problem such
that an accurate
assessment of the current status of these substances
can be developed,
a better understanding must be obtained of the fate of
these substances in soil and sediment and in aquatic
systems, and
contaminants in 139 streams across 30 states (USGS 2000);
once the levels of these substances are understood,
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studies of
evaluate their pharmacologic and toxicologic activities
antimicrobial resistance; and the Canadian Toxic Sub-
to permit some estimation of the risks of exposure.
stances Research Initiative to evaluate the occurrence and
concentrations of prescription and non-prescription drugs
The Council recommends the following to the IJC:
in the effluent of Canadian sewage treatment facilities
(Metcalf et al. 2002).  The National Oceanic and Atmo-
Recommend to the Parties that the following types
spheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental
of research/surveillance be conducted:
Research Lab currently has ballast water research projects
­
Examine the output of these chemicals from
underway that include analysis of ballast water samples for
wastewater and drinking water treatment
pathogens.  The Canadian National Water Research
plants.
Institute, in collaboration with academic institutions, is
­
Summarize the actual levels of these constitu-
currently studying the application of microbial source
ents detected in water  supplies and compare
tracking techniques (antimicrobial resistance and rep-PCR)
these values to their reference or effect levels;
to determine sources of fecal contamination and pathogen
or determine their effect levels, if unknown.
pollution in the Great Lakes, is conducting a research study
­
Determine if there are biotic indicators of the
of sewage treatment effluents, groundwater sources and
effects or presence of these chemicals.
drinking water treatment facilities to determine levels of
­
Conduct experimental analyses of degradation
pharmaceutical concentrations.  Such efforts must be
times for these chemicals under natural
recognized, funded and fully supported.
conditions.
­
Determine if wastewater or drinking water
Research documenting the presence and concentrations of
treatment processes can be changed to reduce
pathogens, pharmaceuticals and unregulated chemical
or remove these chemicals.
contaminants is just a first step in assessing the risk to
human health.  Much more needs to be done in order to
In summary, the problems with pathogens and emerging
provide policy makers with the knowledge required to
chemical contaminants are the same in practical terms —
decide whether harmful quantities of pathogens and
they are present in the environment, they are not regulated
unregulated chemical contaminants are present and the
and they could present a health risk.  There has been some
appropriate response.  Additional research must be
ground breaking work done recently in the study of
conducted in order to learn about the occurrence of
concentrations of pharmaceuticals and other organic
pathogens and emerging chemical contaminants, their fate
contaminants in both the U.S. and Canada.  These studies
and transport in the environment, the risk to humans, and
include the United States Geological Survey Toxic Sub-
whether that risk can be mitigated by wastewater or
stances Hydrology Program National Reconnaissance study
drinking water treatment.
of pharmaceuticals, hormones and organic wastewater
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