The Occurrence of Illicit and Therapeutic Pharmaceuticals in Wastewater Effluent and Surface Waters in Nebraska

Department of Civil Engineering, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 203B Peter Kiewit Institute, Omaha, NE 68182-0178, USA.
Environmental Pollution (Impact Factor: 4.14). 03/2009; 157(3):786-91. DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2008.11.025
Source: PubMed


The occurrence and estimated concentration of twenty illicit and therapeutic pharmaceuticals and metabolites in surface waters influenced by wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) discharge and in wastewater effluents in Nebraska were determined using Polar Organic Chemical Integrative Samplers (POCIS). Samplers were installed in rivers upstream and downstream of treated WWTP discharge at four sites and in a discharge canal at a fifth location. Based on differences in estimated concentrations determined from pharmaceuticals recovered from POCIS, WWTP effluent was found to be a significant source of pharmaceutical loading to the receiving waters. Effluents from WWTPs with trickling filters or trickling filters in parallel with activated sludge resulted in the highest observed in-stream pharmaceutical concentrations. Azithromycin, caffeine, 1,7-dimethylzanthine, carbamazepine, cotinine, DEET, diphenhydramine, and sulfamethazine were detected at all locations. Methamphetamine, an illicit pharmaceutical, was detected at all but one of the sampling locations, representing only the second report of methamphetamine detected in WWTP effluent and in streams impacted by WWTP effluent.

Download full-text


Available from: Daniel D Snow,
    • "DPH is often one of the most frequently detected pharmaceuticals in studies of effluent-impacted systems. It is highly persistent in the environment and has been shown to bioaccumulate and exert toxicity in fish (Kinney et al., 2006; Bartelt-Hunt et al., 2009; Walters et al., 2010; Berninger et al., 2011; Topp et al., 2012; Subedi et al., 2012; Goolsby et al., 2013; Wang and Gardinali, 2013). A recent study by Du et al. (2014) on trophic transfer of pharmaceuticals showed that DPH was not subject to trophic magnification, and that the primary route of uptake by fish is via inhalation across the gill. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Reports of pharmaceuticals in STPs and aquatic systems in the northern hemisphere have surged over the last decade. However, the Australian evidence base is relatively limited, and information on the role of seasonal dilution in attenuation of micropollutants is also scarce. We investigated the removal of 11 PPCPs during sewage treatment in Australia's largest inland STP, and concentrations in the effluent-receiving environment under 2 dilution scenarios. Five treatment stages were sampled, as well as upstream and downstream of the effluent outfall in the Lower Molonglo/Upper Murrumbidgee Catchment, which is dominated by effluent flow during dry periods. Compounds of interest include carbamazepine (CBZ), venlafaxine (VEN), sertraline (SER), fluoxetine (FLX), atenolol (ATL), sotalol (SOT), metoprolol (MET) propranolol (PRL), chlorpheniramine (CHP), diphenhydramine (DPH), and triclosan (TCS). Removal of most pharmaceuticals in the STP was incomplete, although the degree of removal was highly variable for compounds in the same therapeutic class, and for the same compounds in different seasons. Removal efficiency was highest for TCS and lowest for VEN (effluent concentrations 5-7 times higher than influent). Influent mass loads and removal efficiencies of cardiovascular medicines varied considerably. Effluent loads were highest for CBZ, VEN and SOT in both seasons (up to 64g/day). The dilution conditions were clearly reflected in the 'zone of impact' of PPCPs in the catchment. This study confirms that risk assessment models for PPCPs must account for seasonality of influent loads and removal efficiency of STPs, and site validation is critical for predictive capability. Seasonal dilution can play an important role in ameliorating potentially adverse effects related to mixtures of PPCPs in effluent-impacted systems.
    Science of The Total Environment 10/2015; 541. DOI:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.03.145 · 4.10 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "Paradoxically, when these compounds enter our environment after use and due to their specific mechanisms of biological activity, they harm the affected ecosystems. In recent years pharmaceutical residues have been found not only in surface water bodies [1] [2] and soils [3], but even in the drinking water supplies of many countries [4]. This highlights their possible impact on human health and the vicious circle connected to their unreflected use. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The fate of pharmaceuticals in our environment is a very important issue for environmental and health research. Although these substances have been detected in environmental compartments in low concentration until now, they will pose considerable environmental risk to ecosystems, animals and human due to their biological activity. Alternative plant based removal technologies that make use of some potential wetland species like Phragmites or Typha within traditional wastewater treatment plants have to be established to cope with this “new generation” of pollutants. We investigated uptake and translocation of diclofenac (1 mg l−1) in the macrophyte Typha latifolia L. during one week exposure in greenhouse experiments. Detoxification products and involved key enzymatic processes were identified. We also examined the oxidative stress induced by the treatment and the defense capacity of the plants. Rapid uptake and effective metabolism were observed, where glycoside and glutathione conjugates represent dominant metabolites. Up to seven-fold induction of glycosyltransferase activity was observed in roots, but not in shoots. Glutathione S-transferase activity was also induced, but to a lower extent. The activity changes of defense enzymes points to oxidative stress in the plants. Our results show that human pharmaceuticals can be metabolized by plants similar to xenobiotics, but that similarities to human metabolism are limited.
    Plant Science 10/2014; 227. DOI:10.1016/j.plantsci.2014.06.001 · 3.61 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "More frequently, investigators have measured the concentrations of LIDs in surface waters receiving wastewater effluent and in general demonstrate that trace concentrations of amphetamine, methamphetamine, morphine, MDMA (ecstasy), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and cocaine and cocaine metabolites in occur directly in wastewater effluent, or in rivers receiving effluent [12] [13] [21] [22] [24] [25]. For example, Bartelt-Hunt et al. [13] detected a range of illicit and other pharmaceutical compounds using passive samplers placed upstream and downstream of WWTP effluent discharges at several Midwestern sites; methamphetamine concentrations downstream of WWTP effluent ranged from ∼2 to 350 ng/L with few detections upstream and no detections of amphetamine. A similar study was conducted in Switzerland and demonstrated that cocaine and benzoylecgonine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, MDMA, morphine, codeine, heroin metabolites 6-acetylmorphine and 6-acetylcodeine, and THC metabolites were present in wastewater treatment plant effluent, as well as several lakes and streams receiving effluent [26]. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Although illicit drugs are detected in surface waters throughout the world, their environmental fate and ecological effects are not well understood. Many illicit drugs and their breakdown products have been detected in surface waters and temporal and spatial variability in use translates into "hot spots and hot moments" of occurrence. Illicit drug occurrence in regions of production and use and areas with insufficient wastewater treatment are not well studied and should be targeted for further study. Evidence suggests that illicit drugs may not be persistent, as their half-lives are relatively short, but may exhibit "pseudo-persistence" wherein continual use results in persistent occurrence. We reviewed the literature on the ecological effects of these compounds on aquatic organisms and although research is limited, a wide array of aquatic organisms, including bacteria, algae, invertebrates, and fishes, have receptors that make them potentially sensitive to these compounds. In summary, illicit drugs occur in surface waters and aquatic organisms may be affected by these compounds; research is needed that focuses on concentrations of illicit drugs in areas of production and high use, environmental fate of these compounds, and effects of these compounds on aquatic ecosystems at the concentrations that typically occur in the environment.
    Journal of Hazardous Materials 07/2014; 282. DOI:10.1016/j.jhazmat.2014.06.062 · 4.53 Impact Factor
Show more