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August 8, 2022

White House OSTP Releases Plan to Advance Research on Emerging Contaminants in Drinking Water

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released on August 5, 2022, a new report on the National Emerging Contaminants Research Initiative (NECRI). The report outlines a federal strategy to address critical research gaps related to detecting and assessing emerging contaminants in drinking water, as well as identifying and mitigating the adverse health effects those contaminants cause. The report also outlines strategic steps needed to more effectively track, identify, and mitigate contaminants of emerging concern (CEC), which have been traditionally difficult to detect in drinking water.

The report outlines five research goals:

  • Decrease the time from drinking water CEC identification to risk mitigation;
  • Promote technological innovation in tools to discover, track, and mitigate drinking water CECs;
  • Develop and deploy tools and approaches for drinking water CEC decision making;
  • Coordinate transdisciplinary drinking water CEC research activities among federal and non-federal partners; and
  • Foster transparency and public trust when communicating about drinking water CECs.

According to the report, over the next year, the CEC Strategy Team “will operationalize the NECRI through an implementation framework that organizes and coordinates the strategic goals, harnesses existing research, and fuels transformative advancements.” The information derived from these actions will, in turn, inform drinking water advisories, standards, and public health actions and “help our Nation to realize the vision of safe and plentiful [drinking water] for every person.”