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Project ID: 2002TX60B

Title: Fate of a Representative Pharmaceutical in the Environment

Project Type: Research

Focus Categories: Toxic Substances, Ecology, Non Point Pollution

Keywords: pharmaceutical, amoxicillin, wastewater treatment, antibiotic resistance

Start Date: 03/01/2002

End Date: 02/01/2003

Federal Funds: $5,000

Non-Federal Matching Funds: $22,667

Congressional District: 19th

Principal Investigators:
Audra Morse
Texas Tech University

Andrew Jackson
Texas Tech University


The challenges of reusing and recycling wastewater are especially important in arid regions like West Texas, as well as several areas. In many areas of the US, wastewater discharges may constitute most of the flow of many streams. Recently, there has been a heightened national interest in possible presence of a variety of pharmaceutical- or drug-related chemicals which find their way into surface waters. A major concern is that non-pathogenic bacteria may develop resistance to antibiotics and pass this resistance on to pathogenic organisms, thus possibly increasing the incidence of waterborne diseases. In several instances, high levels of a class of chemicals called endocrine disruptors has been observed in streams, rivers and lakes. As a result, there are fears that the presence of these drugs can result in reproductive problems and abnormalities in fish and other aquatic organisms. There are also concerns that endocrine disruptors can also result in human health problems.

The focus of this project is to utilize the Lubbock, Texas, Wastewater Treatment Plant as a facility to test the fate of a commonly used antibiotic, in this case amoxicillin, in effluents. This plant provides secondary treatment, and wastewaters from this site are used to irrigate the Lubbock Sewage Farm. In this project, wastewater samples will be collected from various sites at this plant at various stages, including inflowing or raw wastewater, the activated sludge basin, and finished wastewaters that will be used for irrigation. The samples will be tested for amoxicillin. Antibiotic resistance will be measured and monitored.

From this project, the researchers anticipate learning more about the fate and occurrence of a commonly used antibiotic in streams and ecosystems. In broader terms, this project will lead to a greater understanding of the range of potential problems posed by the release of antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals into water resources and the environment.

Progress/Completion Report PDF

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Maintained by: John Schefter
Last Updated: Thursday June 24, 2004 3:18 PM
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