Introduction to Emerging Contaminants (ECs)

Water is one of the most vital components in human life that 3.4 millions people die each year due to water-related diseases, which is more than the lives claimed in wars. During the 19th century, one of the water-borne diseases named Cholera spread from Ganges delta in India throughout the world that it created another 6 subsequent pandemics which killed millions of people from all continents. Around 430 – 424 B.C.E., it is believed that Typhoid fever wiped out one third of the population of Athens, bringing the Golden Age of Pericles to an end. Besides the diseases related to water contaminated by bacteria, mosquito-borne diseases such as Malaria and Dengue which are discovered since 2700 B.C.E. and 265 C.E. respectively are also closely-related to our water since mosquitoes require stagnant water to breed. At around 20th century, contamination of water by heavy metals such as lead and mercury is being taken seriously since after the incidents of lead and mercury poisonings. 

Although the risks of the diseases stated above still exist in our world today, there is another rising health threat in our drinking water which should concern us more – the Emerging Contaminants (ECs). The term ECs includes all chemicals present in our water systems in trace amount which are recently discovered using the latest technology that they possess a potential risk to human and also environmental health. These chemical including pharmaceutical products, household cleaning agents, pesticides etc. were not considered as contaminants in the past since their existence in the environment was in the amount which was hardly discoverable.


Many people might have heard about heavy metal contaminations, but not many in Malaysia are aware of the danger of these chemicals and their existence in the drinking water which is thought as clean and safe. Me and my coursemates are required to educate the public about ECs by any methods such as social media and campaigns. My group, Group 3 decided to use Instagram as a media by posting photos with facts regarding ECs, hoping that we can reach more people especially younger generations who are actively using Instagram. Elixir means a legendary potion which can prolong life or to turn something into gold. We chose the name Elixir of Hidden Risk because water is the potion of life that every living organisms can’t live without, however, there is a hidden risk that has crept upon us and we shall get ready to face whatever that is coming by getting to know more about it.

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P/S: This article is taken from Confessions of An Environmental Student.

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