Monitoring contaminants of emerging concern in aquatic systems through the lens of citizen science

Nandini Vasantha Raman* (Corresponding author), Asmita Dubey, Edward Millar, Veronica Nava, Barbara Leoni, Irene Gallego

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


Global urbanization trends have led to the widespread increasing occurrence of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) such as pharmaceuticals, personal care products, pesticides, and micro- and nano-plastics in aquatic systems. Even at low concentrations, these contaminants pose a threat to aquatic ecosystems. To better understand the effects of CECs on aquatic ecosystems, it is important to measure concentrations of these contaminants present in these systems. Currently, there is an imbalance in CEC monitoring, with more attention to some categories of CECs, and a lack of data about environmental concentrations of other types of CECs. Citizen science is a potential tool for improving CEC monitoring and to establish their environmental concentrations. However, incorporating citizen participation in the monitoring of CECs poses some challenges and questions. In this literature review, we explore the landscape of citizen science and community science projects which monitor different groups of CECs in freshwater and marine ecosystems. We also identify the benefits and drawbacks of using citizen science to monitor CECs to provide recommendations for sampling and analytical methods. Our results highlight an existing disparity in frequency of monitoring different groups of CECs with implementing citizen science. Specifically, volunteer participation in microplastic monitoring programs is higher than volunteer participation in pharmaceutical, pesticide, and personal care product programs. These differences, however, do not necessarily imply that fewer sampling and analytical methods are available. Finally, our proposed roadmap provides guidance on which methods can be used to improve monitoring of all groups of CECs through citizen science.
Original languageEnglish
Article number162527
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 01 May 2023


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