Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center

Emerging Issues

Graphic showing the three components of Emerging Issues program-scan, watch, action.





Emerging Issues (EIs) encompass chemicals, materials, or items that have the potential to impact military readiness and environmental quality. Typically, EIs fall under one or more of the following categories:

Emerging Contaminants (ECs) are defined as chemicals or materials of interest that are characterized by a perceived or real threat to human health or the environment and for which there is no currently published health standard or for which the existing health standard is evolving or being re-evaluated.

The Department of Defense (DoD) Chemical and Material Risk Management (CMRM) Program leads the effort to identify and manage the risks associated with the chemicals and materials used by the DoD.



  Overview    Emerging Contaminants      Resources    



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Emerging Contaminants (EC)

     EC Process          Contaminants of Concern      



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EC Process

The Chemical and Material Risk Management (CMRM) Program is charged with early identification of emerging contaminants (ECs) from the pool of chemicals and materials used by the Department of Defense (DoD).  To that end, the CMRM uses the scan-watch-action process to identify, evaluate, and mitigate risks associated with DoD ECs. See the image at the top of this page (source: DoD).

Scan:  Over-the-horizon emerging contaminant impacts are assessed in the first step of the process.  Monthly reports summarize the results of scanning literature, periodicals, and regulatory communications to identify chemicals, materials, and/or risk assessment policies that may undergo guidance or standards changes.  This list of emerging contaminant candidates is then screened against the DoD’s needs to determine whether the candidate EC is of significance to the DoD.  Questions posed when screening candidate ECs include:

1.  Is the chemical/material important to DoD’s mission? 

2.  What are potential impacts on the five DoD functional areas? 
----Environment, Safety, and Health
----Readiness and Training
----Acquisition/Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation (A/RDT&E)
----Production, Operations, Maintenance and Disposal (POMD) of Assets
----Environmental Cleanup

Watch:  When a chemical/material is placed on the watch list, possible DoD impacts have been identified.  A Phase I qualitative impact assessment is conducted as part of the monitoring process.  Based on the results of the Phase I assessment, the EC can be elevated to the action list, kept on the watch list for further monitoring, or removed from the watch list. 

Action:  When a chemical/material is placed on the action list, the probability of high DoD impacts have been identified and a Phase II quantitative impact assessment is conducted.  Additionally, risk management options are developed and ranked.  The options are presented to the EC Governance Council for review and approval as risk management actions.

The Navy does supply the CMRM Program with information on contaminants observed at Navy sites through NORM.  While the Navy Remedial Project Manager (RPM) is not expected to be actively engaged in the scan-watch-action process, it is important for the RPM to be aware if a contaminant at his/her site(s) has been identified as an EC because the potential for regulatory changes with respect to the EC could impact cleanup efforts.

Success stories from past evaluations include both perchlorate and TCE.  These ECs were recently downgraded from the action list to the watch list due to the impacts of the risk management actions.

Perchlorate:  Through the scan-watch-action process, perchlorate was elevated to the action list because of the perception that the DoD was the only contributor to perchlorate contamination.  As part of the implementation of the risk management actions, the sources of perchlorate contamination were investigated.  Compound specific isotope analysis methods were developed to identify the source of the perchlorate – DoD or industrial.  Through this research, it was determined that the fertilizer industry is a predominate source of perchlorate contamination.  For more information, see the Perchlorate Webpage at the CMRM program and Perchlorate Resources on the EPA Web page.

Below, perchlorate molecule, CIO4‾.

Perchlorate molecule, CIO4

Trichloroethene (TCE):  The concerns regarding TCE exposures due to vapor intrusion resulted in the DoD research thrust to evaluate this pathway.  The DoD’s research programs, Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) and Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP), championed this research area and produced significant advances for distinguishing vapor intrusion (VI) from consumer indoor products.  Examples include compound specific isotopic analysis methods and HAPSITE demonstration and validation for establishing background levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) at potential VI locations.  Further information can be found on the SERDP/ESTCP Webpages.




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Contaminants of Concern

The scan-watch-action process describes how the Department of Defense (DoD) addresses emerging contaminants (ECs) with the potential to significantly impact the mission.  However, not all chemicals/materials identified as ECs are applicable to the Navy’s Environmental Restoration program.  For example, the Chemical and Material Risk Management (CMRM) program develops policies to bring management of a material’s lifecycle into the acquisition process.  Therefore, the discussion in this Web page is limited to the contaminants of concern to a Navy or Marine Corps Remedial Project Manager (RPM).

As of September 2012, the following table consists of ECs related to the Cleanup Program.  For each contaminant, historical use, general properties, treatment technologies, and regulatory status will be discussed.  Links to contaminant-specific information including the current understanding of fact sheets, toxicology information, and treatment options are provided for each contaminant.

Always remember that the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Care Center is available for consultation regarding changes in toxicity values and how updates to numbers in EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) may impact the protectiveness of a remedy.

EC Regulatory Status Historical Use Properties Treatment Technologies Links to Information

Tier 1 toxicity value available; No impact on maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) (yet)

Ensure remedies are protective

Solvent and degreaser for manufacturing

Dry-cleaning solvent

Dense nonaqueous phase liquid (DNAPL), low solubility, mobile, and recalcitrant in water In Situ Bioremediation, In Situ Chemical Oxidation, In Situ Chemical Reduction

EPA Fact Sheet


Integrated DNAPL Site Strategies


EPA Preliminary Remediation Goal (PRG) = 24.5 µg/L

Some states have enforceable levels (e.g., CA [6 µg/L] and MA [2 µg/L])

Oxidizer (rocket propellant, flares, munitions, matches)

Fertilizer impurity

Anion, salt, dense, high solubility, mobile, and stable in water

Ex Situ: Pump & Treat (P&T) with ion exchange, bioreactors, liquid phase GAC (granular activated carbon), and membranes

In Situ: Bioremediation and Permeable Reactive Barrier (PRB)

EPA Fact Sheet

ITRC Guidance

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS)

No Federal MCL

Short term drinking water health advisory is 70 ppt - combined PFOA and PFOS levels, (EPA)

Fire fighter training pits

Surfactant (foam)

Protective coating

Water and oil repellency, thermal stability, and mobile


According to manufacturer:

Water: GAC

Soil: Thermal

EPA Fact Sheet

No Federal MCL

Some states have  guidance (e.g., CA [3.0 ppb notification level], CO [3.2 ppb], MA [0.3 ppb regulatory level])

Stabilizer with chlorinated solvents (chlorinated ethenes and ethanes)

Solvent in paints

Highly flammable, unstable at high temperature/pressure

Mobile, low volatility, recalcitrant

Ex Situ: P&T (advanced oxidation [ozone-peroxide], aerobic bioreactors)

In Situ: Phytoremediation, aerobic bioremediation however research is still on going

EPA Fact Sheet





EPA Toxicity values don’t incorporate latest Army research

Explosive Low sorption, low solubility In situ bioremediation (anaerobic), in situ chemical reduction, in situ chemical oxidation (ISCO),  phytoremediation, composting

EPA Fact Sheet


Army Corps


Current value is a Tier 3 cancer slope factor for oral exposure

EPA is preparing a Tier 1 assessment

Not intentionally made


produced through combustion

High sorption, low vapor pressure, recalcitrant Still being researched.  Accepted technologies center on thermal destruction. EPA Fact Sheet
1,2,3-Trichloropropane (1,2,3-TCP)

No Federal MCL.

One state has guidance, CA (0.005 µg/L notification level and 0.0007 µg/L public health goal).

Note detection limits, US EPA methods 0.02 – 0.32 µg/L and California Department of Public Health (CDPH) method 0.005 µg/L

Industrial solvent

Paint remover

Degreasing agent

Production of pesticides

DNAPL, low sorption, low solubility

Ex Situ: P&T (GAC, Zero Valent Zinc)

In Situ: Soil vapor extraction, ISCO, potentially bioremediation and PRB

EPA Fact Sheet

SERDP Project

Navy's Environmental Sustainability Development to Integration (NESDI) Project #434



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          Policy & Guidance                    Related Sites         



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Policy and Guidance

Keywords Title and Description Pages

DON Policies & Approach on PFC/PFAS Website


 1, 4 Dioxane  

 DON 1,4 Dioxane Guidance/ Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)  (August 2018)



Interim PFAS Site Guidance for NAVFAC Remedial Project Managers (RPMs) (September 2017)





Testing DoD Drinking Water for PFOS and PFOA (June 2016)

Memorandum requiring to test the finished drinking water for PFOS and PFOA at all installations where DoD is the water purveyor (including overseas). 

Lead-Based Paint


NAVFAC Guidance on Lead-Based Paint, NAVFAC Ltr 5090 Ser 13008/EV3-KB (31 January 2014)



DON Perchlorate Release Management Policy, CNO letter 5090 N453C Ser/9U158028 dated 3 March 2010; enclosure - DUSD Memo Perchlorate Release Management Policy, DUSD (I&E) Memo dated 22 April 2009 (3 March 2010)

This memorandum updates policy on management of perchlorate releases at DoD installations, including operational ranges and Government owned-contractor operated (GOCO) facilities, Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) sites, and formerly used defense sites (FUDS) in the United States.  This policy supersedes the previous perchlorate policies issued by this office.


Emerging Contaminants

Contaminants of Concern

DoD Policy Instruction on Emerging Contaminants NUMBER 4715.18 (11 June 2009)

This Instruction establishes policy and assigns responsibilities for the identification, assessment, and risk management of ECs that have the potential to impact the DoD in accordance with the authority in DoD Directive (DoDD) 5134.01 (Reference (a)) and the guidance in DoDD 4715.1E, DoD Instruction 5000.02, and Defense Acquisition University Risk Management Guide (References (b), (c), and (d)).

Perchlorate sampling

DON Perchlorate Sampling and Management Policy, CNO 5090 N456J Ser/6U838120  (16 May 2006)

This policy supersedes Navy Perchlorate Assessment Policy of 5 December 2003. 

EC Response Triggers

DoD Memo 17 Sep 2008-Actions in Response to Releases of Emerging Contaminants; Encl: Emerging Contaminants-Initiation of Characterization and Response Actions for Protection of Human Health, ECOS-DoD Sustainability Work Group Issue Paper (15 Sep 2008)


Human Health Risk Assessment

EPA Guidance for Superfund Volume I: Human Health Evaluation Manual (Part E, Supplemental Guidance for Dermal Risk Assessment (RAGS)

(Part E, Supplemental Guidance for Dermal Risk Assessment) ("Part E") to address human health risk related to dermal exposures.

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Related Sites

Keywords Website Title and Description Pages






DoD Chemical and Material Risk Management Program

The Chemical and Material Risk Management (CMRM) Program identifies and manages risks associated with the chemicals and materials DoD uses to protect the readiness, people, and the environment.


Emerging Contaminants

Fact Sheets


EPA Technical Fact Sheets and Emerging Contaminants

Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse Office (FFRRO) published a variety of fact sheets on individual contaminants of concern and emerging contaminants.


ITRC Perchlorate Team

The ITRC Perchlorate Team reviewed new and/or innovative perchlorate remediation technologies to determine the availability and effectiveness of these technologies to reduce concentrations of perchlorate in groundwater and/or soils.




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