Tungsten: Is It The Next Major Emerging Contaminant?
October 18, 2023 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Tungsten (represented on the periodic table as “W”) is a naturally occurring element that exists in the environment as minerals with the two most common minerals being Wolframite and Scheelite. Due to tungsten’s unique properties, such as its remarkable tensile strength, conductivity, and melting point, it can be found in a variety of applications from electronics to industrial equipment and a major use for DoD applications. Previously tungsten was thought to be stable in the environment due to its strong bonding capacity to soil and insolubility in water; therefore, the US EPA and most states did not require screening during environmental investigations. However, recent studies at US EPA NPL sites and DoD sites identified dissolved phase and solid phase tungsten. Following this the US EPA listed soil and tapwater screening levels for tungsten in 2017 based on recent studies of tungsten’s toxicity but the most recent US EPA regional screening levels do not list a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for tungsten. As more studies are conducted on the toxicology and fate-transport of tungsten, further environmental regulations will follow which could potentially open the door on current and past closed sites across the country.