State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2009NY117B
Title: Assessment of drug degradation in New York State waters
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2009
End Date: 2/28/2010
Congressional District: 22
Focus Categories: Wastewater, Water Quality, Methods
Principal Investigators: Hay, Anthony; Phillips, Patrick
Federal Funds: $ 19,952
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 40,368
Abstract: Every day humans release hundreds of biologically active pharmaceuticals into receiving waters, yet we know surprisingly little about the environmental fate of these compounds and what risks they pose. Recent studies have revealed the presence of pharmaceuticals in surface waters across the country. In fact, research by Co-PI Phillips has just documented the presence of opiates, barbiturates, muscle relaxants and other pharmaceuticals in samples from streams and wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in New York State. Of these, opiates were detected at their highest concentration (over 1000 ug/L in some cases) in WWTPs and streams which receive discharge from pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities (PMFs). This suggests that PMFs may be a major source of pharmaceutical contamination in NY waters, including the Hudson River watershed. Despite these important observations, we have little or no direct information about the fate of opiates in WWTPs or in the receiving waters impacted by their discharge. More information about the fate of these compounds is needed before we can fully characterize the risks they pose to human and environmental health. We propose to quantify the biodegradability of selected pharmaceuticals in laboratory microcosms that simulate WWTPs and receiving waters. This work is important because everyone is concerned about having clean water for themselves and for the environment. The public wants to know what is in their water and if it is harmful. WWTP operators need to know what is getting by them and what can be done to stop it. Regulators and risk assessors need to know what happens to these compounds once they get into the environment. This information is necessary before a complete risk assessment can be done for these compounds and before we can determine what steps need to be taken to further address the issue of pharmaceutical contamination of our water.

Progress/Completion Report, 2009, PDF

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