National Emerging Contaminants Research Initiative (NECRI) (38 pages)
A Report by the Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CEC) Interagency Working Group (IWG) of the National Science and Technology
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 directs the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) , in coordination with several federal agencies that are members of the Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CEC) Interagency Working Group (IWG),to create a national research initiative to improve the identification, analysis, monitoring, and treatment methods of CECs, and develop any necessary program, policy, or budget to support the implementation of the initiative. This effort builds on the CEC IWG’s 2018
document, “Plan for Addressing Critical Research Gaps Related to Emerging Contaminants in Drinking Water,” published in response to FY2018 Appropriations legislation, and the update to the Plan published in February 2022, in response to report language in FY2019 Appropriations
legislation. To develop the national research initiative, OSTP solicited input from five CEC IWG technical teams on critical research gaps and needs for emerging contaminant identification and exposure characterization, human health effects assessment, risk characterization, risk
mitigation, and risk communication. OSTP also issued a Request for Information (RFI) to receive public comments that would inform the development of the research initiative.
The National Emerging Contaminants Research Initiative (NECRI) establishes a national vision—access to clean and plentiful drinking water for every person in the nation—and outlines a Federal strategy to address critical research gaps related to detecting and assessing emerging
contaminants in drinking water and identifying and mitigating adverse health effects. The NECRI emphasizes the importance of partnerships and effective communication in building a strong foundation for future research. The NECRI also integrates climate change and environmental justice tenets to ensure equitable access to clean water.
The NECRI organizes CEC research into five strategic goals that address data gaps and priority areas that, when addressed, will generate actionable information for CEC mitigation and risk communication.
Goal 1: Decrease the time from drinking water (DW) CEC identification to risk mitigation. Five areas of DW CEC research are essential to decreasing the time from CEC identification to risk mitigation: contaminant identification and exposure characterization, human health
effects assessment, risk characterization, risk mitigation, and risk communication. Advancing critical research priorities in these overlapping, transdisciplinary areas and linking findings across disciplines will allow more rapid identification, understanding, and mitigation of CECs
and the communication of appropriate, trustworthy information to collaborators and partners.
Goal 2: Promote technological innovation in tools to discover, track, and mitigate DW CECs. DW CEC measurement and analysis tools establish the type and magnitude of a contaminant exposure as well as potential effects. Development and deployment of cost-effective and broadly applicable and accessible next-generation tools are essential to understand DW CEC exposure through time-resolved, near real-time, and real-time monitoring, screening, and reporting. Tool development critical to achieve the NECRI vision are sensing and screening technologies to identify and monitor CECs, and biomarkers and models to measure effects.
Goal 3: Develop and deploy tools and approaches for DW CEC decision making. Protecting populations from potential adverse effects of CECs necessitates forward planning, research, and policy decisions. Innovative research and analytical tools support these actions by providing approaches to collect and organize data within a decision framework, apply advanced computational approaches to maximize understanding of the data, and provide feedback for further research, decision making, and mitigation. Tools to accomplish these actions are grouped as (1) tools to reduce uncertainty in decision making and (2) frameworks for decision making.
Goal 4: Coordinate transdisciplinary DW CEC research activities among Federal and nonFederal partners. A network of CEC research centers would advance research capabilities, reduce the potential for duplicative efforts, minimize the potential to miss major challenges or issues, and increase the communication and synergy among collaborators and partners. To fully leverage the CEC research and communication activities, centers would link to each other as well as other efforts in water research, water management, and policy. Data would be shared through a data
repository and organized through a data management plan.
Goal 5: Foster transparency and public trust when communicating about DW CECs. CEC exposures and effects occur within a societal context that requires effective communication of complex, transdisciplinary, and multifaceted data. Effective communication at every step from fundamental research to mitigation is critically important to establish transparency and build public trust among all collaborators and partners. CEC risk communication priorities include engagement and inclusion, communications research, and incorporation of communications research into the CEC research network.