Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2015NJ366B

The biodegradation of pharmaceuticals in anaerobic wastewater digestate

Institute: New Jersey
Year Established: 2015 Start Date: 2015-03-01 End Date: 2016-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $5,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $10,000

Principal Investigators: Julia Campbell, Lily Young

Abstract: Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) are used on a daily basis by people worldwide and released into the environment by human excretion as well as improper disposal. These contaminants make their way to a wastewater treatment plant where they are incompletely removed and released into streams via wastewater effluent. While little is known about the effects of emerging PPCPs contaminants on humans, it is known that pharmaceutical compounds and their metabolites can cause adverse effects to aquatic organisms. PPCPs can also inhibit or promote processes in wastewater treatment plants such as methane production. Due to these risks and concerns, it is important to find a way to get rid of these contaminants before they reach the environment. The following research investigates anaerobic microbial degradation under methanogenic conditions as means to remove pharmaceuticals from wastewater. The effect of pharmaceuticals on methane production will also be investigated. The identification of degradation pathways and metabolites of pharmaceuticals as well as the identification of the microbial community responsible can reveal new methods to rid wastewater of pharmaceutical contaminants.