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Corporate Overview

The Standard – January 2012

Emerging Contaminants in the Great Lakes

Recent analysis of data collected over a ten-year period in the Great Lakes indicates the presence of numerous types of chemical compounds. From pharmaceuticals and personal care products to pesticides, plasticizers to flame retardants, many different chemicals used in daily life are finding their way to the flora and fauna of the Great Lakes, with implications on the ecosystem and resultant call for regulations.

Many classes of chemicals were discovered to be persistent in the Great Lakes. Chemicals like prescription and over-the-counter drugs, anti-bacterial agents, personal-care chemicals, flame retardants, plasticizers, and pest-control chemicals were all found in measurable amounts in this project. As expected, concentrations declined the farther away from lakeshore samples were taken, with many analyses performed on water samples taken from the Great Lakes Basin. Sediment samples were also tested for a variety of chemical compounds known to accumulate.

There are several reasons why this contamination is important to note and quantify. Water-treatment programs do not filter out every possible contaminant, and many of these chemicals may not be removed during processing. Contamination of food sources, either through plant uptake of material in soil or from animal adsorption from consumption of plant material, can introduce contaminants to the human food supply. Toxicological effects of chemicals on wildlife is another concern; many chemicals revealed in this study are herb- or pest-control standards and may pose unknown risk to other plant, marine, and animal life.

Clean-up, remediation, and regulatory efforts depend on being able to accurately gauge the problem and track success of action. Getting reliable information on contaminant concentration at the onset and following up with repeated testing over time as chemical release is restricted, lessened, or outright banned will bring contaminant levels to manageable levels. For the restricted or banned items, amounts will be expected to drop over time, necessitating the use of precision standards. CIL makes a wide variety of pesticide, pharmaceutical and personal care product, industrial-chemical, and endocrine-disrupting compound standards for chemical analysis.

• Pesticide standards
• Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products standards
• Industrial Chemical standards
• Endocrine Disrupting Compounds standards
• Brominated Flame Retardant standards



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