Open-File Report 2010–1102
Wastewater-treatment-plant (WWTP) effluents are a demonstrated source of pharmaceuticals to the environment. During 2004-09, a study was conducted to identify pharmaceutical compounds in effluents from WWTPs (including two that receive substantial discharges from pharmaceutical formulation facilities), streamwater, and reservoirs. The methods used to determine and quantify concentrations of seven pharmaceuticals are described. In addition, the report includes information on pharmaceuticals formulated or potentially formulated at the two pharmaceutical formulation facilities that provide substantial discharge to two of the WWTPs, and potential limitations to these data are discussed. The analytical methods used to provide data on the seven pharmaceuticals (including opioids, muscle relaxants, and other pharmaceuticals) in filtered water samples also are described. Data are provided on method performance, including spike data, method detection limit results, and an estimation of precision. Quality-assurance data for sample collection and handling are included. Quantitative data are presented for the seven pharmaceuticals in water samples collected at WWTP discharge points, from streams, and at reservoirs. Occurrence data also are provided for 19 pharmaceuticals that were qualitatively identified. Flow data at selected WWTP and streams are presented.
Between 2004-09, 35-38 effluent samples were collected from each of three WWTPs in New York and analyzed for seven pharmaceuticals. Two WWTPs (NY2 and NY3) receive substantial inflows (greater than 20 percent of plant flow) from pharmaceutical formulation facilities (PFF) and one (NY1) receives no PFF flow. Samples of effluents from 23 WWTPs across the United States were analyzed once for these pharmaceuticals as part of a national survey. Maximum pharmaceutical effluent concentrations for the national survey and NY1 effluent samples were generally less than 1 µg/L. Four pharmaceuticals (methadone, oxycodone, butalbital and metaxalone) in samples of NY3 effluent had median concentrations ranging from 3.4 to greater than 400 µg/L. Maximum concentrations of oxycodone (1,700 µg/L) and metaxalone (3,800 µg/L) in samples from NY3 effluent exceeded 1,000 µg/L. Three pharmaceuticals (butalbital, carisoprodol, and oxycodone) in samples of NY2 effluent had median concentrations ranging from 2 to 11 µg/L. These findings suggest that current manufacturing practices at these PFFs can result in pharmaceutical concentrations from 10 to 1,000 times higher than those typically found in WWTP effluents.
First posted June 3, 2010
For additional information contact:
Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.
Phillips, P.J., Smith, S.G., Kolpin, D.W., Zaugg, S.D., Buxton, H.T., and Furlong, E.T., 2010, Method Description, Quality Assurance, Environmental Data, and other Information for Analysis of Pharmaceuticals in Wastewater-Treatment-Plant Effluents, Streamwater, and Reservoirs, 2004-2009: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010-1102, 36 p., (Also available at https://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2010/1102/.)
Purpose and Scope
Information on Pharmaceuticals Formulated at PFFs
Sample Preparation, Apparatus, Instrumentation, and Standards
Qualitative and Tentative Identification of Analytes
Quantitation of Analytes
Quantifying High Concentrations
Quantifying Low Concentrations
Reagent Set Spike2
NY3 Effluent Matrix Spikes
NY1 Effluent Matrix Spikes
NY4 Effluent Matrix Spikes
NY1 Upstream Matrix Spikes
Summary of Reagent Set and Matrix Spikes
Method Detection Limit
Estimation of Precision
Holding Time Study
Environmental Data for Pharmaceuticals in Wastewater-Treatment Plants, and in Streamwater and Reservoir Water
Concentrations in Samples from National Survey of Wastewater-Treatment-Plant Effluent
Concentrations in Effluent Samples from Wastewater-Treatment Plants NY1, NY2 and NY3.
Concentrations in Samples of Streamwater Collected Downstream from WWTP Discharge Points of NY1, NY2, and NY3
Concentrations in Samples of Streamwater Collected Upstream from WWTP NY1, NY2, and NY3 Discharge Points
Concentrations in Samples collected from Reservoirs and Additional Streams Downstream from NY2 Effluent Discharge Point
Data on Qualitatively and Tentatively Identified Compounds
Flow Data for Selected WWTP Effluent Samples and Streamwater Samples