EPA’s Office of Water has asked the Science Advisory Board (SAB) for advice on the scientific merit of a white paper that identifies and addresses technical issues in deriving aquatic life criteria for emerging contaminants such as pharmaceuticals and personal care products exhibiting endocrine disrupting activity or other toxic mechanisms.
These chemicals have features that require additional consideration when applying existing ambient water quality criteria for the protection of aquatic life, using EPA’s 1985 Guidelines for Deriving Numerical National Water Quality Criteria for the Protection of Aquatic Life and Their Uses. The emerging contaminants may demonstrate low acute toxicity but cause significant reproductive effects at very low levels of exposure. In addition, the effects of exposure to aquatic organisms during the early stages of life may not be observed until adulthood. Therefore, traditional toxicity test endpoints may not be sufficiently comprehensive for criteria derivation for these chemicals and the chemicals may also have very specific modes of action that may affect only certain types of aquatic animals (e.g., vertebrates such as fish).