[Image credit: minthu]
Over the last 200 years, the global population has been growing at an exponential rate and according to the UN, is predicted to reach 8.5 billion by 2030. The population increase to date, has been supported by the development of agricultural, industrial and health care resources, which has led to the rise in the production and use of a variety of different chemicals. In recent years, many of the substances, either used in or created by these industries have been named as “emerging contaminants” (EC’s). Until very recently, the main focus of the impacts that chemicals cause in the environment was mainly attributed to heavy metals, active ingredients traditionally used in pesticides and persistent organic pollutants. However, concern has been growing over the environmental and health risks of EC’s. Many EC’s are considered to be water pollutants, yet they remain largely unregulated by current water-quality standards. So what are these chemicals and why are they a problem?