Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2017NV219B

Wastewater Reuse and Uptake of Contaminants of Emerging Concerns by Plants

Institute: Nevada
Year Established: 2017 Start Date: 2017-03-01 End Date: 2018-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $17,557 Total Non-Federal Funds: $36,354

Principal Investigators: Kumud Acharya, Daniel Gerrity

Abstract: Water scarcity is a global problem, particularly in arid and semi-arid regions. The use of treated wastewater (i.e., reclaimed water) has become an attractive option for conserving and extending available water supplies, especially for agriculture purposes. However, municipal wastewater combined with storm water runoff can be a major source of emerging pollutants including steroidal hormones and pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in urban areas. It is common to have highly prescribed pharmaceuticals, widely used antimicrobial products, and naturally occurring hormones in sewage waste. Conventional wastewater treatment plants are not designed to remove these organic compounds completely, and thus they are frequently detected at low levels (parts per billion to parts per trillion) in wastewater effluents. The impact of reuse of wastewater effluents in agriculture are relatively unknown in terms of uptake and bioaccumulations. The proposed preliminary research will address this knowledge gap by characterizing potential human exposure to chemical and microbiological contaminants of emerging concerns from food crops irrigated with treated municipal effluent. Laboratory plant uptake experiments will be conducted in a climate-controlled greenhouse. Experiments will be performed with two food crops: tomatoes and spinach. These species were selected because they are similar to those currently grown in the western U.S. using reclaimed water. Tomatoes and spinach are often consumed raw, which would maximize potential human exposure to CECs. The plants grown with reclaimed irrigation water will be harvested and analyzed for target CEC compounds such as Sulfamethoxazole, Triclocarbon and Triclosan among others.