Pharmaceutical manufacturing facility discharges can substantially increase the pharmaceutical load to U.S. wastewaters
Discharges from pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities (PMFs) previously have been identified as important sources of pharmaceuticals to the environment. Yet few studies are available to establish the influence of PMFs on the pharmaceutical source contribution to wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and waterways at the national scale. Consequently, a national network of 13 WWTPs receiving PMF discharges, six WWTPs with no PMF input, and one WWTP that transitioned through a PMF closure were selected from across the United States to assess the influence of PMF inputs on pharmaceutical loading to WWTPs. Effluent samples were analyzed for 120 pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical degradates. Of these, 33 pharmaceuticals had concentrations substantially higher in PMF-influenced effluent (maximum 555,000 ng/L) compared to effluent from control sites (maximum 175 ng/L). Concentrations in WWTP receiving PMF input are variable, as discharges from PMFs are episodic, indicating that production activities can vary substantially over relatively short (several months) periods and have the potential to rapidly transition to other pharmaceutical products. Results show that PMFs are an important, national-scale source of pharmaceuticals to the environment.
|Pharmaceutical manufacturing facility discharges can substantially increase the pharmaceutical load to U.S. wastewaters
|Science of the Total Environment
|National Water Quality Laboratory, New York Water Science Center
|Google Analytic Metrics