First Advisor

Gwynn Johnson

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Civil & Environmental Engineering


Civil and Environmental Engineering




Emerging contaminants in water -- Law and legislation -- United States, Sewage sludge, Columbia River Watershed -- Environmental conditions -- Case studies, Environmental monitoring, Water quality management, United States. Environmental Protection Agency




Wastewater treatment plants are a major source of contaminants of emerging concern, as these facilities are the main receptors of these products via household, commercial, and industrial drains, and transport via stormwater runoff. Biosolids are composed of numerous constituents, with a number of environmentally persistent and potentially toxic contaminants of emerging concern identified as present in large concentrations. Research is needed to understand the transport and fate mechanisms of these compounds in biosolids. Additionally, this research is needed to determine a new priority framework to regulate CECs, both on the national level and regional levels. Wastewater treatment plant influent and effluent treatment regulations and practices may be improved upon as more knowledge accrues regarding contaminants of emerging concern behavior in the environment.

The United States environmental regulatory process is a constant work in progress. Inherited from decades-old public health traditions, environmental regulatory programs arose to address the issues of public health as water and air quality issues surfaced. The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) (15 U.S.C. 2601), enacted in 1976, provided the EPA regulatory authority to protect the environment and consumers' health against risks posed by chemicals in commerce. TSCA only retroactively addressed chemical hazards, after they had been deemed unsafe and previously unrestricted in the public. A bill to overhaul TSCA, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 2576, TSCA Modernization Act of 2015), was passed by the Senate on June 7, 2016 and sent on for President Obama's signature. The amended law will give the EPA new authority to evaluate the safety of a new chemical before it enters the marketplace. It will also allow EPA to evaluate the safety of chemicals already known to be risks, including chemicals found to persist in the human body and in the environment.

The Columbia River is presented as a case study as an example of a significant waterbody with research and regulatory gaps concerning CECs. The Columbia River waterbody was chosen as it represents an important natural resource for which data gaps exist on CEC sources and pathways into the waterbody, and which also does not receive adequate protective regulations under the national regulatory framework.



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A research project report submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering.

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