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Project ID: 2004KS37B

Title: Water Quality in Surface Water

Project Type: Research

Focus Categories: Water Quality

Keywords: screening, pharmaceuticals, wastewater, Kansas

Start Date: 03/01/2004

End Date: 02/28/2005

Federal Funds: $15,000

Non-Federal Matching Funds: $33,332

Congressional District: 2nd

Principal Investigator:
Alok Bhandari


Recent reports have attributed the detection of pharmaceutical agents in surface waters to discharges from municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). The presence of pharmaceuticals in surface waters is of concern because these compounds have the potential to perturb microbial ecology, increase the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant pathogens, and pose threat to human health. Pharmaceutical agents are introduced into municipal wastewater streams through direct disposal of medicines or from human excreta, which contains large quantities of non-metabolized or partially metabolized pharmaceutical compounds. In order to develop solutions that control the release of pharmaceutical agents into the environment, it is important to first estimate their input into surface waters and land. Recent studies have reported the presence of a variety of pharmaceutical compounds in environmentally significant quantities in discharges from wastewater treatment facilities in Europe and across the eastern United States. Very few studies, however, have been conducted in the Midwestern United States, and these studies have not correlated the occurrence of the pharmaceutical agents to community types, or removal in WWTPs to treatment processes and seasonal changes. Our proposed project builds on an existing USGS funded project investigating the occurrence and fate of four widely prescribed antibiotics – amoxicillin, azithromycin, sulfamethoxazole, and ciprofloxacin – in raw and treated wastewater, and biosolids at four northeast Kansas WWTPs. In the proposed project we plan to extend our analyses of the collected samples to a screening evaluation to a wider variety of pharmaceuticals including methylxanthines (caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline), opioids (morphine, fentanyl, butorphanol, etc.), and acetaminophen. Additional funding will also allow us to conduct round-the-clock sampling at selected WWTPs to evaluate hourly fluctuations in the mass input and output of pharmaceutical agents at these facilities. Information generated from this research will provide critical and timely information about the extent of environmental release of the target compounds through effluent discharges and biosolids.

Progress/Completion Report PDF

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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Last Updated: Friday November 4, 2005 9:48 AM
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