Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2015NY220B

Emerging Organic Pollutants: From College Campuses to Cayuga Lake

Institute: New York
Year Established: 2015 Start Date: 2015-06-01 End Date: 2016-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $19,813 Total Non-Federal Funds: $66,854

Principal Investigators: Susan AllenGill, Jose Lozano

Abstract: The purpose of this project is to expand our pilot study on whether the presence of a substantial college-aged population in Ithaca, New York (see map) delivers a significant load of select compounds to the Ithaca wastewater treatment system, and if the current concentrations pose an environmental threat. Relative to the general population, college students are heavy users of ADHD medication, antidepressants, and birth control pills. Each of these classes of emerging pollutants are excreted and enter the sewage treatment system, potentially harming aquatic life if they remain active in the water fraction. We intend to determine the contribution of the college campuses to Ithaca Area Wastewater Treatment Facility (IAWWTF) influent, and the success of IAWWTF in removing these compounds before the effluent is released into Cayuga Lake by comparing concentrations at different points in the system (drinking water intake, influent, effluent, and lake water) and at different times of year (when students are absent, present, and during final exams) using 24-hr time weighted automated sampling and GC-MS (USGS NWQL, Denver, CO). We also intend to investigate potential behavioral modifications in fathead minnows (Pimephelas promelas) at environmentally relevant concentrations of select emerging pollutants. The contaminant data, combined with the toxicity tests, will provide a picture of the degree of contamination and potential ecological consequences that could be applied to other municipalities, especially college towns.