Available literature data on five typical groups of emerging contaminants (EMCs), i.e., chlorinated paraffins (CPs), dechlorane plus and related compounds (DPs), hexabromocyclododecanes (HBCDs), phthalate esters, and pyrethroids, accumulated between 2003 and 2013 were assimilated. Research efforts were categorized by environmental compartments and countries, so that global trends of research on EMCs and data gaps can be identified. The number of articles on the target EMCs ranged from 126 to 1,379 between 2003 and 2013. The numbers of articles on CPs, DPs, HBCDs, and pyrethroids largely followed the sequence of biota > sediment ≥ air > water ≥ soil > human tissue, whereas the sequence for phthalate esters was water > sediment > soil > human tissue ≥ biota ≥ air. Comprehensive studies on the target EMCs in biological samples and human tissues have been conducted worldwide. However, investigations into the occurrence of the target EMCs in soil of background areas and water are still scarce. Finally, developed and moderately developed countries, such as the USA, China, Canada, Japan, and Germany, were the main contributors to the global research efforts on EMCs, suggesting that economic prosperity may be one of the main factors propelling scientific research on EMCs.
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