Assessment of the Presence and Fate of Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) Found in Treated Wastewater Discharges into Charleston Harbor, South Carolina

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Hedgespeth, Melanie Lea
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Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) are a group of contaminants of emerging concern that are introduced into aquatic environments by non-point and point sources. This study assessed seasonal/regional trends of targeted PPCPs detected in samples from two local wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and surface water from the Charleston Harbor over twelve months. After modifying EPA Method 1694 to include hormones, analysis using HPLC/MS/MS revealed that of the 19 target compounds examined, 11 were quantified above method reporting limits in wastewater influent, 9 in effluent, and 7 in surface water samples. Concentrations were reduced by > 90% for most chemicals in effluent compared to influent, though concentrations of some PPCPs in effluent were higher than those in influent. Differences in effluent concentrations and estimated removal between WWTPs are believed to be related to variation in general operating parameters and/or the anoxic basin employed by one of the facilities. Laboratory experiments also examined the effects of salinity on PPCP recovery/degradation and PPCP effects on oxygen uptake in Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) gill tissue. Results indicate that there may be little to no risk for acute effects on non-target organisms, though further testing of sublethal exposures and/or mixtures is warranted. Overall, future monitoring of PPCPs may aid in minimizing potential negative impacts of increasing urban/industrial development in coastal regions.
Drugs -- Toxicology -- South Carolina -- Charleston Harbor; Hygiene products -- Toxicology -- South Carolina -- Charleston Harbor; Drugs -- Environmental aspects -- South Carolina -- Charleston Harbor; Hygiene products -- Environmental aspects -- South Carolina -- Charleston Harbor; Sewage disposal plants -- Environmental aspects -- South Carolina -- Charleston Harbor.