New Report Focuses on Addressing Significant Research Gaps Related to Assessment of Chemical Contaminants in Water

The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has released its latest report on the National Emerging Contaminants Research Initiative (NECRI). The report considers the issue of contaminants of emerging concern in drinking water. It reviews a strategy for addressing research gaps relative to detecting such contaminants. In this blog post, we present a brief overview of the NECRI and look at the strategic goals outlined in the report.

National Emerging Contaminants Research Initiative

Developed in conjunction with the OSTP and members of the Contaminants of Emerging Concern Interagency Working Group, the NECRI represents a national research effort focused on identifying, evaluating, monitoring, and treating contaminants of emerging concern. While contaminants exist in a variety of media types, their presence in drinking water is a principal focus in the recent NECRI report.

Strategic Goals

According to the NECRI, five key strategic goals are central to research efforts for contaminants of emerging concern:

  • Decrease the time from drinking water contaminants of emerging concern identification to risk mitigation
    • Achieving this goal will require research in several key areas, including contaminant identification and exposure characterization, human health effects assessment, risk characterization, risk communication, and risk mitigation.
  • Promote technological innovation in tools to discover, track, and mitigate drinking water contaminants of emerging concern
    • Successful tool development includes a focus on sensing and screening technologies. The use of biomarkers to monitor and measure effects is also essential.
  • Develop and deploy tools and approaches for drinking water contaminants of emerging concern decision making
    • These can be classified broadly as decision-making frameworks and tools for decreasing decision-making uncertainty.
  • Coordinate transdisciplinary drinking water contaminants of emerging concern research activities among Federal and non-Federal partners
    • A network of interlinked research centers will help accomplish this goal.
  • Foster transparency and public trust when communicating about drinking water contaminants of emerging concern
    • Effective communication priorities encompass communications research (including integration into the research network for contaminants of emerging concern), as well as engagement and inclusion.

What’s Next

The NECRI report notes that in the coming months, the Interagency Contaminants of Emerging Concern Strategy Team will utilize an implementation framework that “organizes and coordinates the strategic goals, harnesses existing research, and fuels transformative advancements.” According to the report, the Initiative's efforts "should lead to a holistic treatment of CECs.”

More detailed information about the Initiative, its underlying goals, and associated next steps may be found by reviewing the NECRI report itself.

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