The widespread presence of contaminants of emerging concern (CEC) in surface waters, treated wastewater and drinking water is an ongoing issue for the water industry. The absence of regulatory guidance and limited occurrence, toxicity and removal data are defining criteria of CEC and make it difficult to prioritise which CEC pose the greatest risk. The online Emerging CHemIcals Database for National Awareness (ECHIDNA) aims to classify and prioritise CEC based on their potential risk, with the information presented in an easily accessible and intuitive manner. A candidate list of almost 1,800 potential CEC, including pesticides, pharmaceuticals and industrial compounds, was compiled using both Australian and international resources. These were ranked based on in silico assessment of their persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) properties, as well as potential chronic toxicity hazard, yielding 247 CEC for further prioritisation. Risk Quotients (RQ) identified between 5 and 87 CEC posing a risk to human and ecosystem health, respectively, across drinking water, surface water, treated wastewater and raw wastewater. While the ability of the water industry to effectively prioritise CEC is limited by candidate identification and data availability, ECHIDNA can provide valuable information for better decision-making surrounding CEC management.

  • Contaminants of emerging concern (CEC) pose unique challenges to the water industry.

  • ECHIDNA is a centralised data repository to help with decision-making around CEC.

  • CEC are first prioritised based on their persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) properties.

  • Risk quotients are used to identify and rank CEC based on their potential risk in various water matrices.

  • ECHIDNA can be curated to include newly identified CEC.

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