How Many Chemicals in Commerce Have Been Analyzed in Environmental Media? A 50 Year Bibliometric Analysis.


Over the past 50 years, there has been a tremendous expansion in the measurement of chemical contaminants in environmental media. But how many chemicals have actually been determined, and do they represent a significant fraction of substances in commerce or of chemicals of concern? To address these questions, we conducted a bibliometric survey to identify what individual chemicals have been determined in environmental media and their trends over the past 50 years. The CAplus database of CAS, a Division of the American Chemical Society, was searched for indexing roles "analytical study" and "pollutant" yielding a final list of 19,776 CAS Registry Numbers (CASRNs). That list was then used to link the CASRNs to biological studies, yielding a data set of 9.251 × 106 total counts of the CASRNs over a 55 year period. About 14,150 CASRNs were substances on various priority lists or their close analogs and transformation products. The top 100 most reported CASRNs accounted for 34% of the data set, confirming previous studies showing a significant bias toward repeated measurements of the same substances due to regulatory needs and the challenges of determining new, previously unmeasured, compounds. Substances listed in the industrial chemical inventories of Europe, China, and the United States accounted for only about 5% of measured substances. However, pharmaceuticals and current use pesticides were widely measured accounting for 50-60% of total CASRN counts for the period 2000-2015.