Preventing the Next Generation of Superfund Sites: University of Arizona SRP Hosts Timely Workshop

Aug. 13, 2009

UA SRP investigator, Dr. Wendell Ela hosted a Workshop entitled: “Superfund Contaminants: The Next Generation” in Tucson, Arizona, August 12-14, 2009.  This national Workshop, sponsored by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), aimed to identify the next generation of contaminants most likely to create the next generation of Superfund sites.  A total of 29 Workshop participants were asked to identify those contaminants of major environmental concern, then narrow the list  to those contaminants  that could contribute to future mega-contamination sites.

As of January 2006, there were more than 239,000 substances on the Chemical Abstracts Service list of regulated chemicals (Chemical Abstracts Service, 2006). The production of more than 4,800 of these chemicals exceeded 1,000 metric ton/year (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, 2004). This total does not include the massive quantities of “naturally occurring” contaminants that may enter the human environment due to resource extraction/production such as mining, groundwater pumping and agricultural practices.

While considering future environmental health concerns and the mission of the SRP, the Workshop goal was to initiate, focus, and refine discussion on identifying the next generation of Superfund contaminants and contaminant attributes.

Twenty-five national experts ranging from toxicologists to environmental engineers spent 2.5 days hashing out the “Top Ten Candidate List” of chemicals or groups of chemicals that are recommended for consideration by the SRP and listing the key research and knowledge gaps that need to be addressed. Following the break-out sessions, efforts were invested on synthesizing all of the preceding discussions and integrating the information into a body of text that will be used in the Workshop Report and Workshop White Paper/Journal Article.