As part of the continuing effort to collect baseline information on the environmental occurrence of pharmaceuticals, and other organic wastewater contaminants (OWCs) in the Nation's water resources, water samples were collected from a network of 47 groundwater sites across 18 states in 2000. All samples collected were analyzed for 65 OWCs representing a wide variety of uses and origins. Site selection focused on areas suspected to be susceptible to contamination from either animal or human wastewaters (i.e. down gradient of a landfill, unsewered residential development, or animal feedlot). Thus, sites sampled were not necessarily used as a source of drinking water but provide a variety of geohydrologic environments with potential sources of OWCs. OWCs were detected in 81% of the sites sampled, with 35 of the 65 OWCs being found at least once. The most frequently detected compounds include N,N-diethyltoluamide (35%, insect repellant), bisphenol A (30%, plasticizer), tri(2-chloroethyl) phosphate (30%, fire retardant), sulfamethoxazole (23%, veterinary and human antibiotic), and 4-octylphenol monoethoxylate (19%, detergent metabolite). Although sampling procedures were intended to ensure that all groundwater samples analyzed were indicative of aquifer conditions it is possible that detections of some OWCs could have resulted from leaching of well-construction materials and/or other site-specific conditions related to well construction and materials. Future research will be needed to identify those factors that are most important in determining the occurrence and concentrations of OWCs in groundwater.
Additional publication details
A national reconnaissance of pharmaceuticals and other organic wastewater contaminants in the United States - I) Groundwater