IT IS too early to be certain what effects hundreds of "emerging contaminants" will have, but the Environment Protection Authority says Bendigo levels are low.
The group's scientists are gauging the risk of 218 chemicals used across Victoria, including at Bendigo, Ballarat, Melbourne and the Latrobe Valley.
Many have been used by industry, agriculture or in household for decades and have been found in soil, water and wildlife, EPA chief scientist Andrea Hinwood said.
They have also been found in low levels among people across Australia, she said.
"That's not meant to freak people out, it's just the reality of our modern-day lifestyles," Dr Hinwood said.
There is not a lot of solid scientific information on the 218 contaminants, she said.
What is clear is that contamination does not just happen near pollution "source points" like factories.
Electrical goods contain brominated flame retardants which are known to leak into soil as plastic breaks down, Dr Hinwood said.
Other chemicals are found in insecticides or in chemicals used to suppress fires.
"It makes it really challenging when we are working with a pollution case because we might already have the same concentrations from general domestic and diffuse sources," Dr Hinwood said.
Some chemicals have been found to concentrate in fish. They include PFAS, a chemical found in fire suppressants, in non-stick cookware and to coat some outdoor jackets.
"What they are finding in studies overseas is that it takes a lot to have an environmental impact," Dr Hinwood said.
"In the concentrations we've measured in Victoria we have point sources we've measured. We have a risk there but it's hard to actually characterise what that is."
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Bendigo sites appearing in some of the EPA's latest research have not shown high concentrations of emerging contaminants, which tested water and sediment in aquatic ecosystems across 25 industrial, residential, agricultural and undeveloped sites, Dr Hinwood said.
The next step will be to see how many chemicals end up in Victorian fish and other wildlife, Dr Hinwood said.
"I have to say, from the concentrations we've measured, particularly in regional areas, it's fair to say we don't anticipate major impacts at this point," she said.
"But I have to put a caveat on that, because we need to do the work to sort out whether there are issues or not."
The EPA will delve further into four of the most common chemical groups found during the next study.
"From a regulatory point of view, what we would then do is say 'how is this stuff being used?', 'do we have to use that chemical?', 'how is it finding its way into water bodies?' and 'how do we prevent that?'," Dr Hinwood said.
The latest research on emerging contaminants has been published by academic journal Science of the Total Environment.
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