State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2009IN244B
Title: The Influence of Nonprescription Pharmaceuticals on Aquatic Ecosystems: Direct Toxicity and Indirect Trophic Interactions
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2009
End Date: 2/28/2010
Congressional District: 6
Focus Categories: Non Point Pollution, Solute Transport, Surface Water
Keywords: wastewater, nonpoint pollution, streams, pharmaceuticals, toxicology
Principal Investigator: Bernot, Melody J.
Federal Funds: $ 15,000
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 31,714
Abstract: Pharmaceuticals in freshwater is increasingly becoming a concern due to potential problems associated with drinking water contamination and freshwater habitat degradation. However, little data is available on the effects of trace concentrations of pharmaceuticals on aquatic ecosystems. Further, only a few studies have quantified the range and variability of pharmaceuticals in freshwater. This is due in part to the expense associated with measuring trace organics. I propose a study to directly assess the influence of pharmaceuticals on aquatic microbial activity in conjunction with documentation of the range of pharmaceuticals found in a sub-watershed of the Wabash River, the Upper White River. These data will provide novel baseline data necessary to understand how pharmaceuticals may be affecting freshwater resources in Indiana. Current management programs based on single water quality parameters (e.g., NO3-N) or even multiple water quality parameters may not sufficient to manage biological resources and freshwater quality if trace organics such as pharmaceuticals are altering biotic activity. Without more comprehensive data to guide management programs, we may incorrectly assume that these programs are adequate for maintaining or improving water resources. This research will address these concerns by (1) quantifying spatial and temporal variability of pharmaceuticals; and (2) providing a more comprehensive understanding of pharmaceutical influence on biotic activity using in vitro experiments. Combining the descriptive survey of aquatic ecosystems with innovative laboratory experimental approaches will provide one of the most comprehensive analyses of the influence of pharmaceuticals on aquatic ecosystems in central Indiana. These data are absolutely imperative to make appropriate management and regulatory decisions for watersheds.

Progress/Completion Report, 2009, PDF

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