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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 404796, 12 pages
Review Article

Overview of Emerging Contaminants and Associated Human Health Effects

Department of Hepatobiliary Surgery, First Affiliated Hospital of Medical College, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xi’an, Shaanxi 710061, China

Received 11 September 2015; Revised 16 November 2015; Accepted 17 November 2015

Academic Editor: Daniel Cyr

Copyright © 2015 Meng Lei et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In recent decades, because of significant progress in the analysis and detection of trace pollutants, emerging contaminants have been discovered and quantified in living beings and diverse environmental substances; however, the adverse effects of environmental exposure on the general population are largely unknown. This review summarizes the conclusions of the comprehensive epidemic literature and representative case reports relevant to emerging contaminants and the human body to address concerns about potential harmful health effects in the general population. The most prevalent emerging contaminants include perfluorinated compounds, water disinfection byproducts, gasoline additives, manufactured nanomaterials, human and veterinary pharmaceuticals, and UV-filters. Rare but statistically meaningful connections have been reported for a number of contaminants and cancer and reproductive risks. Because of contradictions in the outcomes of some investigations and the limited number of articles, no significant conclusions regarding the relationship between adverse effects on humans and extents of exposure can be drawn at this time. Here, we report that the current evidence is not conclusive and comprehensive and suggest prospective cohort studies in the future to evaluate the associations between human health outcomes and emerging environmental contaminants.