Principal Investigator: 
Robin Brightbill
Institution: 
U.S. Geological Survey
Seagrant Topics: 

Virtually all chemical compounds used by humans have pathways to the environment. Pharmaceuticals enter the environment as a result of the improper disposal of drugs and the discharge of excreted waste containing metabolized and un-metabolized pharmaceuticals into sanitary sewers. Concern over the presence of pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs) in waters of the United States and elsewhere is growing. Laboratory techniques that have been developed allow these compounds to be measured at concentrations in nanograms per liter. PPCPs are found in many streams that are used for drinking water. At 9 stream sites located near drinking-water intakes in the Susquehanna and Delaware River Basins between 2007 and 2009, 19 of 63 compounds (16 of those 63 compounds analyzed were PPCPs) analyzed in raw water samples were detected at concentrations greater than reporting levels, with caffeine, sulfamethoxazole, and acetaminophen being the three PPCP compounds most commonly detected. Finished drinking water was not tested and further research is needed to analyze finished waters and to compare current concentrations of PPCPs in raw waters (2016) to past concentrations (2007-2009).

The objectives of this project are to:

  1. Determine current (2016) concentrations of pharmaceuticals and personal care products at 10 sites (one raw and one finished sample per site) within the Susquehanna, Delaware and Lake Erie Watersheds for a total of 40 samples that will be collected during 2 different low-flow periods(20 samples per low-flow period).
  2. Compare concentrations of pharmaceutical and personal care products from raw samples collected at stream sampling sites near 9 drinking water intakes in the Delaware and Susquehanna Watershed as part of a previous study (2007 to 2009) to concentrations at the same sites sampled as part of this study in 2016.
  3. Report on new findings and comparisons to previous findings where appropriate
Research Year: 
2016
Funding Amount: 
$75,000
Current or Past research?: 
Current Research

Main Office: Tom Ridge Environmental Center 301 Peninsula Dr., Suite 3 Erie, PA 16505 814-217-9011