Prioritization Approaches for Substances of Emerging Concern in Groundwater: A Critical Review

Lorraine Gaston, Dan J. Lapworth, Marianne Stuart, Joerg Arnscheidt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)
80 Downloads (Pure)


Risks from emerging contaminants (ECs) in groundwater to human health and aquatic ecology remain difficult to quantify. The number of ECs potentially found in groundwater presents challenges for regulators and water managers regarding selection for monitoring. This study is the first systematic review of prioritization approaches for selecting ECs that may pose a risk in groundwater. Online databases were searched for prioritization approaches relating to ECs in the aquatic environment using standardized key word search combinations. From a total of 672, 33 studies met the eligibility criteria based primarily on the relevance to prioritizing ECs in groundwater. The review revealed the lack of a groundwater specific contaminant prioritization methodology in spite of widely recognized differences between groundwater and surface water environments with regard to pathways to receptors. The findings highlight a lack of adequate evaluation of methodologies for predicting the likelihood of an EC entering groundwater and knowledge gaps regarding the occurrence and fate of ECs in this environment. The review concludes with a proposal for a prioritization framework for ECs in groundwater monitoring that enables priority lists to be updated as new information becomes available for substances with regard to their usage, physicochemical properties, and hazards.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6107-6122
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number11
Early online date7 May 2019
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 4 Jun 2019


  • Groundwater
  • Emerging contaminants
  • Monitoring
  • Prioritization
  • Exposure
  • Hazard assessment


Dive into the research topics of 'Prioritization Approaches for Substances of Emerging Concern in Groundwater: A Critical Review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this