Research Topic

Recent Advances in Sampling and Analysis Methodologies, and Environmental Behaviors Studies for Emerging Organic Contaminants in the Aquatic Environment

About this Research Topic

The expansion of human activities in modern society has resulted in extensive demands for an increasing range of synthetic organic chemicals. Most of them are manufactured for the purpose of improving the quality of life for people and to promote the continued development of society. They are used as individual substances and within products that contain them and are subsequently released into the environment. These organic chemicals include ingredients of pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs), pesticides, hormones, industrial ingredients (such as flame retardants, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, and plasticizers), and by-products. They are collectively termed emerging organic contaminants (EOCs), or trace organic chemicals (TrOCs) or organic chemicals of emerging concerns (CECs). The extensive application and presence of EOCs in our daily consumer products and the nature of these substances results in their widespread distribution with many being discharged primarily to the aquatic environment. As a result, they have become ubiquitously detectable and pseudo-persistent in aquatic environments across the world with the potential for accumulation in aquatic food chains.

There have been wide-ranging discussions about possible adverse effects on target or non-target organisms from EOCs, such as emergence of antibacterial resistance, endocrine disrupting effects and toxicity. However, to the best of our knowledge, the risk assessment for EOCs is challenging owing to the limited understanding of their environmental fate and behavior, and the lack of suitable sampling and analytical methods.

The overall objective of this Research Topic in Frontiers in Environmental Chemistry is to explore the state of the art in sampling and analysis methodologies, to provide a comprehensive perspective for understanding their environmental fate and behavior in the aquatic environment, and for the further assessment of their potential risk.

This Research Topic will focus on the development and application of novel sampling and analytical techniques for processed-based studies and monitoring campaigns for EOCs. Potential themes include, but are not restricted to, the following:


• Sampling approaches for EOCs in the aquatic environment, both dissolved and particulate phases as well as sediments, which would include novel active sampling strategies and passive sampling techniques. Such techniques would provide important insights into process-based understanding of fate as well as for measurement campaigns on a range of spatial scales. These could include 1) novel active sampling strategies for better understanding the spatial distribution of EOCs with links to emissions, and 2) passive sampling techniques for in situ measurement of EOCs to determine interactions between phases (e.g. sorption/desorption).

• Development of compound specific and non-target screening analytical methods for EOCs in the aquatic environment to include both extraction and quantification. This would include selective and sensitive techniques to provide data on spatial distribution, but also process based data (e.g. partitioning, degradation, bioaccumulation). Non-target screening approaches to provide information on the identity of novel EOCs, degradation products and related compounds. Methods could include 1) sample preparation methods such as developing novel materials for solid-phase extraction (SPE) and solid phase microextraction (SPME), and 2) instrumental methods: mass spectrometry (MS) or high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) analysis methods for EOCs.

• Important and new field, process and modelling studies on environmental fate and behavior for EOCs in both human influenced/engineered and natural aquatic environments. These could include: 1) engineered aquatic treatment processes including wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and constructed wetland systems, and 2) natural aquatic environment including rivers, lakes and oceans and groundwater systems.


For Submission to Frontiers in Environmental Chemistry, reports dealing with analytical techniques should be coupled with sufficient environmental data, and contribute insights into the environmental chemistry of organic chemicals. All article types are welcome, with an emphasis on Original Research and Reviews.


Keywords: Passive sampling, method development, sample extraction, mass spectrometry analysis, emerging organic contaminants, environmental behaviors, aquatic environment


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The expansion of human activities in modern society has resulted in extensive demands for an increasing range of synthetic organic chemicals. Most of them are manufactured for the purpose of improving the quality of life for people and to promote the continued development of society. They are used as individual substances and within products that contain them and are subsequently released into the environment. These organic chemicals include ingredients of pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs), pesticides, hormones, industrial ingredients (such as flame retardants, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, and plasticizers), and by-products. They are collectively termed emerging organic contaminants (EOCs), or trace organic chemicals (TrOCs) or organic chemicals of emerging concerns (CECs). The extensive application and presence of EOCs in our daily consumer products and the nature of these substances results in their widespread distribution with many being discharged primarily to the aquatic environment. As a result, they have become ubiquitously detectable and pseudo-persistent in aquatic environments across the world with the potential for accumulation in aquatic food chains.

There have been wide-ranging discussions about possible adverse effects on target or non-target organisms from EOCs, such as emergence of antibacterial resistance, endocrine disrupting effects and toxicity. However, to the best of our knowledge, the risk assessment for EOCs is challenging owing to the limited understanding of their environmental fate and behavior, and the lack of suitable sampling and analytical methods.

The overall objective of this Research Topic in Frontiers in Environmental Chemistry is to explore the state of the art in sampling and analysis methodologies, to provide a comprehensive perspective for understanding their environmental fate and behavior in the aquatic environment, and for the further assessment of their potential risk.

This Research Topic will focus on the development and application of novel sampling and analytical techniques for processed-based studies and monitoring campaigns for EOCs. Potential themes include, but are not restricted to, the following:


• Sampling approaches for EOCs in the aquatic environment, both dissolved and particulate phases as well as sediments, which would include novel active sampling strategies and passive sampling techniques. Such techniques would provide important insights into process-based understanding of fate as well as for measurement campaigns on a range of spatial scales. These could include 1) novel active sampling strategies for better understanding the spatial distribution of EOCs with links to emissions, and 2) passive sampling techniques for in situ measurement of EOCs to determine interactions between phases (e.g. sorption/desorption).

• Development of compound specific and non-target screening analytical methods for EOCs in the aquatic environment to include both extraction and quantification. This would include selective and sensitive techniques to provide data on spatial distribution, but also process based data (e.g. partitioning, degradation, bioaccumulation). Non-target screening approaches to provide information on the identity of novel EOCs, degradation products and related compounds. Methods could include 1) sample preparation methods such as developing novel materials for solid-phase extraction (SPE) and solid phase microextraction (SPME), and 2) instrumental methods: mass spectrometry (MS) or high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) analysis methods for EOCs.

• Important and new field, process and modelling studies on environmental fate and behavior for EOCs in both human influenced/engineered and natural aquatic environments. These could include: 1) engineered aquatic treatment processes including wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and constructed wetland systems, and 2) natural aquatic environment including rivers, lakes and oceans and groundwater systems.


For Submission to Frontiers in Environmental Chemistry, reports dealing with analytical techniques should be coupled with sufficient environmental data, and contribute insights into the environmental chemistry of organic chemicals. All article types are welcome, with an emphasis on Original Research and Reviews.


Keywords: Passive sampling, method development, sample extraction, mass spectrometry analysis, emerging organic contaminants, environmental behaviors, aquatic environment


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

28 February 2022 Abstract
31 August 2022 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

28 February 2022 Abstract
31 August 2022 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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