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Emerging pollutants: definition, examples and how they affect us

In recent years, various pollutants considered new have been found in the waters of rivers and seas. The analyzes of the quality of the waters of these rivers have shown how, despite appearing in minute quantities, these pollutants have a very harmful presence. The future of the presence of emerging pollutants in water points to increase, due to the more and more frequent use of drugs, plastics and other chemical substances from which these pollutants are derived.

In this interesting AgroCorrn article we bring you information about one of the current environmental and health problems: emerging pollutants. Read on and learn about the definition of emerging pollutants, examples and how they affect us .

You may also be interested in: Types of environmental pollutants
  1. What are emerging pollutants – definition
  2. Examples of emerging pollutants
  3. How emerging pollutants affect us

What are emerging pollutants – definition

Emerging pollutants are all those pollutants whose presence in the environment has been recently recognized , due to the existing concern about the consequences they entail given their polluting effect on the environment and on health. As its name suggests, these pollutants have emerged today, that is, they have been recently detected thanks to the application of new analytical technologies available for study and recognition. Despite having been used continuously and for a long time, until the last 5 or 7 years the effects they can cause both on the environment and on people were not known.

Emerging pollutants are increasingly present in the environment, as a direct consequence of irresponsible activities by human beings, such as poor management of toxic waste and excess consumption of certain chemicals. In the next section we will see some concrete examples of emerging pollutants to better understand what it consists of.

Examples of emerging pollutants

In the vast majority of cases, emerging pollutants appear in wastewater , rivers and aquifers, the main sources of emission being agriculture and livestock, as well as poor management of toxic waste. Let’s see the main examples or types of emerging pollutants detected today:

  • Medications in pill form, such as ibuprofen, which when expired are improperly disposed of by toilets and sinks or in normal trash, instead of being taken to clean drug collection points in pharmacies, which is the right thing to do for its good management.
  • Pharmaceutical products with cutaneous application, such as creams, ointments and lotions, which deposit remains as they are not completely absorbed by the skin, contaminating surface waters.
  • Personal care and hygiene products, such as makeup and some soaps.
  • Perfluorinated compounds derived from pesticides, fungicides, plant growth accelerators and other products used in agriculture.
  • Silver, gold and metal oxide nanoparticles from industrial activities.
  • Drugs like cocaine and heroin.
  • Endocrine or hormonal disruptors. Learn more about these types of emerging pollutants that affect our hormones with this other post on What are endocrine disruptors .
  • Plasticizers and industrial additives.
  • Microplastics. If you want to know better about these plastic pollutants, you can consult this other Green Ecology article on What are microplastics, their definition and types .

How emerging pollutants affect us

After not being able to be eliminated in the treatment plants in which the treatment of the residual waters to which the emerging pollutants reach are carried out, these tend to accumulate in natural aquatic environments, thus causing negative effects on the well-being and balance of ecosystems and species that inhabit it.

It is known that they affect health in different ways (especially by favoring hormonal problems, as in the case of endocrine disruptors) and unbalance ecosystems , destroying habitats, among other problems. However, the environmental information regarding the effects of emerging pollutants on human health, biodiversity and the environment is not yet very extensive to be able to specify the negative effects of these pollutants further. Therefore, it is essential to invest in more studies and research that reveal the specific effects of emerging pollutants, both nationally and internationally.

The possible effects, both in the short and long term, of the accumulation of emerging pollutants in natural and artificial aquatic ecosystems is a problem that must be controlled by governments and societies, since the responsibility of managing our waste concerns us all.

If you want to read more articles similar to Emerging pollutants: definition, examples and how they affect us , we recommend that you enter our Pollution category .

Maria Anderson

Hello, I am a blogger specialized in environmental, health and scientific dissemination issues in general. The best way to define myself as a blogger is by reading my texts, so I encourage you to do so. Above all, if you are interested in staying up to date and reflecting on these issues, both on a practical and informative level.

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