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Open-File Report 2011–1132

Prepared in cooperation with the University of Arizona, Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, AECOM Technology Corporation, and the Water Environment Research Foundation

Pharmaceuticals, Hormones, Anthropogenic Waste Indicators, and Total Estrogenicity in Liquid and Solid Samples from Municipal Sludge Stabilization and Dewatering

By Edward T. Furlong, James L. Gray, David M. Quanrud, Sondra S. Teske, Stephen L. Werner, Kathleen Esposito, Jeremy Marine, Wendell P. Ela, Steven D. Zaugg, Patrick J. Phillips, and Beverley Stinson

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (514 kB)Abstract

The ubiquitous presence of pharmaceuticals and other emerging contaminants, or trace organic compounds, in surface water has resulted in research and monitoring efforts to identify contaminant sources to surface waters and to better understand loadings from these sources. Wastewater treatment plant discharges have been identified as an important point source of trace organic compounds to surface water and understanding the transport and transformation of these contaminants through wastewater treatment process is essential to controlling their introduction to receiving waters.

Whereas the effects of many trace organic compounds are not well known, a number are classified as endocrine-disrupting compounds, including natural and synthetic estrogens, bisphenol A, alkylphenol ethoxylates, particularly nonylphenol ethoxylates, and nonylphenol. This report documents the results from measurements of individual endocrine-disrupting compounds, other trace organic compounds, and yeast estrogen screen (YES) bioassay estimates of estrogenic activity from a multiple-year, multiple-WWTP study. This work was undertaken by scientists of the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Arizona, and AECOM Technology Corporation (AECOM) in cooperation with the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF). The purpose of the study was to characterize the reduction of estrogenicity and endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs) through wastewater treatment processes typical of WWTPs in the United States, with emphasis on the solids phase. In this study, four WWTPs were sampled two to four times annually between December 2005 and January 2007. Synoptic liquid samples of primary influent, primary effluent, and secondary (treated) effluent were collected, and where appropriate, solid samples also were collected. Field and laboratory quality-assurance/quality-control samples also were analyzed in this study. The results from this study are published as a U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report to ensure adequate documentation of the original results, provide a single citable source of original results for subsequent interpretive reports, and ensure continued public access to these results through online publication.


First posted May 1, 2012

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For additional information contact:
National Water Quality Laboratory
Box 25585, Mail Stop 407
Denver, CO 80225-0585

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Suggested citation:

Furlong, E.T., Gray, J.L., Quanrud, D.M., Teske, S.S., Werner, S.L., Esposito, Kathleen, Marine, Jeremy, Ela, W.P., Zaugg, S.D., Phillips, P.J., and Stinson, Beverley, 2012, Pharmaceuticals, hormones, anthropogenic waste indicators, and total estrogenicity in liquid and solid samples from municipal sludge stabilization and dewatering: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011–1132, 8 p.




Purpose and Scope

Study Sites and Sampling Design

Analyses of Pharmaceuticals, Hormones, and Anthropogenic Waste Indicators

Determination of Total Estrogenicity

Data for Liquid and Solid Samples



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