Review of the Minnesota Department of Health Contaminants of Emerging Concern Program Process for Selecting Chemicals

Review of the Minnesota Department of Health Contaminants of Emerging Concern Program Process for Selecting Chemicals

Project description:

The legislative mandate for the Drinking Water Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CEC) program is quite short. It was created in response to Minnesota laws in 20091 and 20112 that appropriated Clean Water Fund money “for addressing public health concerns related to contaminants found in Minnesota drinking water for which no health-based drinking water standard exists.” MDH was required to “characterize and issue health-based guidance” for 10 chemicals in the first biennium. The CEC program is part of the Health Risk Assessment Unit of the MDH. The program is staffed by three toxicologists, one exposure scientist, one risk assessor, and one communicator. The toxicity and exposure screening processes were originally designed in 2010-2011 in consultation with a Contaminant Selection Criteria and Prioritization Development Task Group comprised of specialists assembled by CEC staff from state agencies, universities, private business, cities, and environmental advocacy groups.

Project Staff:

Principle Investigators
Ann Lewandowski, University of Minnesota Water Resources Center
Steve Kelley, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
Research Assistants
James Meinert
Claire Williams

Funding:

Minnesota Department of Health

Objective:

The University of Minnesota was designated by the Legislature to conduct the review. Personnel from the Water Resources Center and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs collaborated on the project. The review consisted of fact gathering regarding the MDH CEC program, a literature review of scientific articles related to chemicals of emerging concern and processes for screening these chemicals, analysis of similar programs in federal agencies and other jurisdictions, and evaluation of the CEC screening process by a panel of scientists and by a panel of stakeholders. Although the University of Minnesota team discussed its recommendations with the scientists and stakeholders and with MDH, the recommendations are the product of the University of Minnesota team. The overall conclusion was that the MDH CEC program is sound but that MDH needed to improve and clarify several steps in the process and expand its efforts to engage stakeholders and the public.

Following the review, the University of Minnesota project team recommends:

1. MDH should preserve and publicize the valuable services of the CEC program.

2. MDH should maintain the Internet-based tool for nominating chemicals for consideration in the CEC program. At the same time, it should engage with membership organizations, for example, the Sierra Club, Clean Water Action or the AARP, that represent individual citizens in developing a communication effort that will increase awareness of the CEC program and awareness of the nomination process.

3. MDH should build on known sources of expertise to develop new methods for systematically nominating chemicals for screening, in addition to relying on voluntary nomination and communicating closely with key agency staff.  

4. MDH should publish on their CEC website the process and criteria for assigning categories, summarizing data groups, and combining scores into overall rankings.

5. For clarity in the screening worksheet, MDH should evaluate cumulative effects and reaction products separately.

6. So it is transparent to stakeholders, MDH should describe its method (if it has one) for identifying reaction products and mixtures with cumulative effects as CECs that may require full evaluations.

7. To keep up with the complexity and dynamic nature of chemical exposure science, MDH should incorporate regular consultations with exposure specialists beyond the CEC program staff.

8. MDH should calculate Hazard Quotients (HQs) for currently screened chemicals to assess how the HQ impacts the ranking of chemicals, how much time the calculation requires, the feasibility of the calculations, and whether the use ofthe HQ is clear to stakeholders or creates more misunderstanding of the uncertainty involved. If the trial shows the HQ is helpful for ranking or communication, it should be incorporated into the screening process.

9. MDH should consider using a “weight of evidence” approach to help streamline the interpretation of toxicological and exposure data and make the process more transparent.

10. MDH should clarify how it is defining “usefulness” of health-based guidance.

11. MDH should increase the engagement of stakeholders during the screening and selection process to help make the process more transparent and inject more information about the nature of needs for health guidance. This engagement should go beyond informal contact with state agencies to reach other stakeholders. To maintain agency accountability, the final decision on chemical selections should remain with CEC program staff.

12. To increase public and stakeholder awareness of the CEC program, MDH should consult with a variety of stakeholders to learn what information they most need, reorganize the CEC website to reflect user needs and add additional communication methods to its current communications activities.

MASWCD webinars

MASWCD webinars

The Water Resources Center and the University of Minnesota Extension have partnered with the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (MASWCD) to bring land use and water quality research to local SWCD staff and supervisors through a series of webinars.  

MinnAqua

MinnAqua

Project Staff:

Erin Corwine
erin.corwine@state.mn.us
612-301-1526

Funding:

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Project Duration:

Ongoing

Summary:

Teaching people about lake and stream ecology by teaching them to fish is the idea behind the MinnAqua - Aquatic Education Program. MinnAqua is a statewide education program designed to teach angling recreation and stewardship as well as the ecology and conservation of aquatic habitats.

Family groups, youth groups like Scouts and 4-H, women, seniors, immigrants, and people with disabilities can all enjoy the opportunities for fun and connecting with nature that fishing provides. MinnAqua's goal is to provide fun, active, "hands-on" experience with fishing to get participants excited about learning and being involved with their local aquatic ecosystems, To this end, the MinnAqua serves approximately 40,000 participants each year across Minnesota.

Erin Corwine is the MinnAqua program contact in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. MinnAqua also has contacts in Duluth, New Ulm, as well as a currculum specialist. More information about MinnAqua can be found at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/minnaqua/

Outfitting a Tackle Box

Heading out fishing? Click here to learn more about what goes in a tackle box.

A Rapid Bioassessment Approach for Integrating Biological Data into TMDL Development for Organic Enrichment of streams

A Rapid Bioassessment Approach for Integrating Biological Data into TMDL Development for Organic Enrichment of streams

Project Staff:

Principal Investigator: Leonard Ferrington Jr., Professor, Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota

Funding:

USGS-WRRI 104B/ CAIWQ Competitive Grants Program

Project Duration:

March 2005 - February 2006

Summary:

Section 303d of the Clean Water Act focuses on ambient water quality standards, requires states

  1. to identify surface waters not meeting ambient water quality standards appropriate for their designated use categories, and
  2. to define the pollutants and their sources that are responsible for non-attainment od the ambient water quality standards.

Section 303d further requires states to establish Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) for pollutants impairing surface waters and to develop strategies for reducing both point and non-point sources of the pollutants in order for non-attaining water bodies to meet ambient water quality standards.

Biological data are typically integrates into the above process at the front-end input, being used

  1. to assist in development of designated use categories and
  2. in monitoring efforts to ensure that ambient water quality standards are met.

However, prediction of biological responses that are likely to result from implementation of TMDL plans is not a fundamental element of the TMDL process. In a recent overview of the TMDL approach to water quality management requested by the US Congress, the National Research Council made several recommendations for integration of biological data into the TMDL process. Among the recommendations, the report states EPA should promote the development of models that can more effectively link environmental stressors (and control actions) to biological responses. Monitoring and data collection programs need to be coordinates with anticipated water quality and TMDL monitoring requirements. This proposal is to employ a newly tested rapid bioassessment technique developed for assessing organic enrichment in urban areas of Minneapolis/Saint Paul (Minnehaha Creek) in a second watershed (Vermillion River catchment) that is undergoing rapid urban development.

Arsenic in Minnesota Groundwater and its Impact on Drinking Water Supply

Arsenic in Minnesota Groundwater and its Impact on Drinking Water Supply

Project Staff:

Principal Investigator: Randal Barnes, Professor, Department of Civil Engineering

Additional Staff: Mindy Erickson, Research Assistant, Water Resources Science Program

Funding:

USGS-WRRI 104B/ CAIWQ Competitive Grants Program

Project Duration:

March 2003 - February 2004

Summary:

In 2001 the United States' federal drinking water standard, or Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL), was decreased from 50 mg/L to 10 mg/L. Public water supplies have until January 1, 2006 to comply with the new standard. Nationwide, the change in the MCL will have significant economic impact on public water supplies that exceed the new MCL. In Minnesota alone, 67 (12%) of Minnesota's public water supplies have arsenic in excess of 10 mg/L. A recent western-Minnesota study found that over 50% of the 900 sampled private drinking water wells had arsenic over 10 mg/L. Statewide, almost 15% of wells sampled exceed 10 mg/L arsenic.

The proposed research project's key components involve creating a useful database from existing data; field work, including groundwater and solids sampling; laboratory analyses of groundwater and solids samples; and data analysis/model building to provide the following information:

  • Characterization of the sampling and temporal variability of arsenic concentration in wells.
  • Determination of how many samples are enough to be confident that the arsenic concentration is actually below the MCL.
  • Determination of the relationship between arsenic concentration in geologic material and arsenic concentrations in water.
  • Determination of likely mechanisms.
  • Characterization of the changes in arsenic concentration in new wells. Specifically, determining how the well's presence changes the arsenic concentration in the water.

Assessing the Ecotoxicology of 4-nonylphenol Mixtures Across the Aquatic Food Chain

Assessing the Ecotoxicology of 4-nonylphenol Mixtures Across the Aquatic Food Chain

Project Staff:

Principal Investigators: Heiko Schoenfuss and Matthew Julius, Assistant Professors, Department of Biological Sciences, St. Cloud State University, Kathy E. Lee US Geological Survey, Mounds View, MN, and Larry B. Barber Ph.D. Water Resources Division, US Geological Survey, Boulder, Colorado

Addtional Staff: Travis Bistodeau, Roberto Cediel, and Angela Allen, Department of Biological Sciences, St. Cloud State University

Funding:

USGS-WRRI 104B/ CAIWQ Competitive Grants Program

Project Duration:

September 2004 - February 2006

Publications:

Refereed Scientific Journal Articles

Schoenfuss, H.L., S. E. Bartell, T. B. Bistodeau, R. A. Cediel, K. J. Grove, K. E. Lee, L. B. Barber. 2008. Impairment of the reproductive potential of male fathead minnows by environmentally relevant exposures to 4−nonylphenolf. Aquatic Toxicology 86(1): 91–98.

Bistodeau, T.J., L.B. Barber, S.E. Bartell, R.A. Cediel, K.J. Grove, J. Klaustermeier, J.C. Woodard, K.E. Lee and H.L. Schoenfuss. 2006. Larval exposure to environmentally relevant mixtures of alkylphenolethoxylates reduces reproductive competence in male fathead minnows. Aquatic Toxicology 79: 268−277.

Conference Proceedings

Schoenfuss, H.L., T.J. Bistodeau, and L.B. Barber. 2006. Larval exposure to environmentally relevant mixtures of alkylphenolethoxylates reduces reproductive competence in male fathead minnows. SETAC North America 27th Annual Meeting, Montreal, Canada, November 5−9, 2006. Abstract #333 pg. 73.

Schoenfuss, H.L. and T.J. Bistodeau. 2006. Effects of Alkylphenol Polyethoxylates AP Alone and in Mixture on Two Life Stages of the Fathead Minnow Pimephales promelas. Minnesota Water 2006 and Annual Water Resources Joint Conference, Brooklyn Center, MN, October 24−25, 2006.

Allen, A.K., T. Loes and H.L. Schoenfuss. 2006. Assessing two species of cypriniform fish for signs of endocrine disruption in a historically estrogenic wastewater outfall. Poster Presentation. 2006 Midwest SETAC Meeting, St. Cloud, MN March 20−22, 2006.

Gamble, C., A. Gikineh and M.L. Julius. 2006. The effects estradiol and nonylphenol on Melosira varians, a common tycho planktonic diatom. Oral Presentation. 2006 Midwest SETAC Meeting, St. Cloud, MN March 20−22, 2006.

Koch, J.K., M. Minger, and H.L. Schoenfuss. 2006. Education as environmental stewardship: Developing inquiry−based learning modules for high school science teachers. Poster Presentation. 2006 Midwest SETAC Meeting, St. Cloud, MN March 20−22, 2006.

Schoenfuss, H.L. and T.J. Bistodeau. 2006. Effects of alkylphenol polyethoxylates AP alone and in mixture on two life stages of the fathead minnow Pimephales promelas. Oral Presentation. 2006 Midwest SETAC Meeting, St. Cloud, MN March 20−22, 2006.

Bistodeau, T.J., Cediel, R.A., Grove, K.J., Klaustermeier, J.A. and Schoenfuss, H.L. 2005. The reproductive consequences of an environmentally relevant exposure of alkylphenol polyethoxylates on fathead minnow larvae. SETAC North America 26th Annual Meeting, Baltimore, MD, November 13−17, 2005. Abstract # WP022 pg. 285.

Schoenfuss H. L. 2005.Concentration dependent effects of 4−nonylphenol on male fathead minnows in a competitive reproductive assay. 2005 MN Water Conference Oral Presentation, Minneapolis, MN, October 25−26, 2005.

Schoenfuss H. L. 2005.Concentration dependent effects of 4−nonylphenol on male fathead minnows in a competitive reproductive assay. 2005 MN Water Conference Oral Presentation, Minneapolis, MN, October 25−26, 2005.Concentration Dependent Effects of 4−Nonylphenol on Male Fathead Minnows in a Competitive Reproductive Assay. Oral Presentation. 2005 Midwest SETAC Meeting, Madison, WI, April 5, 2005.

Bistodeau, T., R. Cediel, K. Groove, J. Klaustermeier, H. L. Schoenfuss. 2005. Reproductive Consequences of Environmentally Relevant Exposures of Fathead Minnow Larvae to a Mixture of Alkylphenol Ethoxylates. Poster Presentation. 2005 Midwest SETAC Meeting, Madison, WI, April 5, 2005.

Schoenfuss, H.L. 2005. Biological Effects of Biologically Active Compounds: Experimental Considerations in the Study of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals. Symposium Presentation at the Annual Meeting of the American Oil Chemists Society, Salt Lake City, UT, May 3, 2005.

Other Presentations

Schoenfuss, H.L. 2004. Simple Questions − Complex Answers: Investigating the Effects of Alkylphenols on Aquatic Organisms. Invited Seminar, University of Nebraska, Omaha.

Summary:

Environmental estrogens have been identified as an important source of endocrine disruption aquatic wildlife. In addition to potent natural and synthetic estrogens (estrone, estradiol, ethynylestradiol), alkylphenolic surfactants based on the parent compound 4-nonylphenol have been suggested as contributing to the estrogenicity of treated wastewater effluents and ultimately surface waters in the US. In this study, we developed sensitive methodology to assess the estrogenicity in two tiers of the aquatic food chain, a primary producer and a secondary consumer to determine whether exposure to 4-nonylphenol at environmentally relevant concentrations has adverse effects on aquatic organisms. The abundance and chemical nature of 4-nonylphenol suggests that organisms at different levels of the trophic cascade may experience differential effects that may be estrogen receptor independent (diatoms) or estrogen receptor mediated (fathead minnow). We chose Melosira varians as the primary producer for this study as this diatom is commonly found in North American surface waters and is a preferred food source for invertebrates (an intermediate step in the aquatic food chain) and fingerling fishes. The fathead minnow, Pimephales promelas was chosen as the other model organism for this study as it is a tier one screening organism for endocrine disrupting compounds by the US EPA as it reproduces year round and as it has several behavioral traits that facilitate the assessment of endocrine disrupting effects in this species. We used three parameters in an effects matrix to assess exposure effects of 4-nonylphenol on the diatom: cell growth, chlorophyll A content and lipid concentration after a 10-day stagnant exposure experiment. We calculated the lipid : chlorophyll A ratio for each exposure as it is well established that environmental pollution will stress diatoms and result in increased chlorophyll A production at the expense of lipid reserves. We chose a suite of endpoints to assess the effects of 4-nonylphenol on the fathead minnow. These included plasma vitellogenin induction, secondary sex characteristics, gonadal histology, and nest holding ability in direct competition with unexposed control males. We conducted several rounds of exposures at concentrations bracketing environmental concentrations of 4-nonylphenol in treated wastewater effluent for both model organisms. Our results indicate that 4-nonylphenol alters lipid : chlorophyll A content in diatoms at environmental concentrations of >80 μg/L 4-nonylphenol. Concentrations of 4-nonylphenol >10μg/L resulted in rapid vitellogenin mRNA induction in male fathead minnows and reducing nest holding ability in exposed male fathead minnows. Similar results were achieved when larval fathead minnows were exposed to nonylphenol for 60 days and then raised in clean water to adulthood. In summary, our study indicates that 4-nonylphenol at concentrations approaching environmental relevance can alter organisms in two tiers of the aquatic food chain and reduce the reproductive potential of exposed fathead minnows.

Assessment of Minnesota Lakes Using Satellite Imagery

Assessment of Minnesota Lakes Using Satellite Imagery

Project Staff:

Principal Investigators: Patrick L. Brezonik, Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, and Marvin E. Bauer, Professor, Remote Sensing and Geospatial Analysis Laboratory and Department of Forest Resources

Additional Staff: Leif G. Olmanson, Scientist, Water Resources Center and Remote Sensing and Geospatial Analysis Laboratory; Katherine Erdman, Research Assistant, Water Resources Science Program, University of Minnesota

Funding:

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, NASA (RESAC program)

Project Duration:

June 2001 - June 2003

Summary:

Satellite-based sensing techniques are being developed in this research initiative as a cost-effective way to gather information for water quality and aquatic vegetation assessments in lake-rich areas like Minnesota. Our research has evolved over the last few years as new high-resolution satellite imagery and improved computer hardware and software have increased the potential opportunities. In our current efforts we have expanded the satellite-based lake assessments statewide, and with colleagues in neighboring states, we have facilitated the use of these methods over the Upper Great Lakes region as a whole. In a further effort to advance the routine use of remote sensing for water clarity assessments, we developed a standardized image processing procedure. With these procedures we are developing a comprehensive lake clarity database for Minnesota. To date we have assessed the clarity of over 10,000 Minnesota lakes for the ~1990 and ~2000 time periods. These data are being used to assess spatial and temporal patterns in lake water clarity based on surrounding land use/cover using a geographical information system (GIS) to link lake clarity data and land-use features. We also have been examining the potential of new satellites with better spatial resolution or temporal coverage for lake quality assessments. Recently, we have been examining the potential use of satellite imagery for aquatic plant surveys of water bodies. This part of the project will evaluate the capability of high-resolution satellite imagery for use in mapping and classifying aquatic plant groups and thus gain a better understanding of these ecosystems.

Biodiversity in Urban Ponds and Lakes: Human Effects on Plankton Populations

Biodiversity in Urban Ponds and Lakes: Human Effects on Plankton Populations

Project Staff:

Principal Investigator: Robert Sterner, Professor and Head, Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, University of Minnesota

Funding:

USGS-WRRI 104B/ CAIWQ Competitive Grants Program

Project Duration:

March 2002 - February 2004

Summary:

This project addressed two sorely neglected aspects of water resources

  1. urban habitats, and
  2. biodiversity of small inconspicuous species

In this project, zooplankton and phytoplankton communities were surveyed of 100 ponds and lakes within the seven-county metropolitan area of the Twin Cities, Minnesota. Sites werr categorized as urban based on land use information. Traditional water quality data were gathered at the same time. The goal was to determine if planktonic biodiversity correlates with the degree of urbanization using statistical approaches, such as testing for differences in the species area curves as a function of land use. There has been little attention paid to water resources closest to the large proportion of today's society that lives in urban environments. By undertaking serious study of biodiversity in urban ponds and lakes, this project will establish whether the combined influences of urbanization are deleteriously affecting the majority of the biodiversity within those habitats.