Occurrence of human pharmaceuticals in water resources of the United States: A review

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Abstract

The widespread environmental presence of some pharmaceuticals and other organic wastewater compounds has been documented globally (e.g. Buser et al. 1998; Ternes 1998; Stumpf et al.1999; Heberer et al. 2001; Kümmerer 2001; Ternes et al. 2001; Scheytt et al. 2001; Golet et al. 2002; Kolpin et al. 2002; Boyd et al. 2003; Metcalf et al. 2003). Recently, there have been several literature reviews and summary studies of the occurrence, fate, transport, and treatment of targeted human pharmaceuticals in wastewater effluent and associated environmental waters across the globe (e.g. Daughton and Ternes 1999; Sedlak et al. 2000; Suter and Giger 2000; Daughton and Jones-Lepp 2001; Jones et al. 2001; Heberer 2002; and Drewes et al. 2002). The occurrence of pharmaceutical compounds in water resources is explained by their ubiquitous use, excretion of large percentages of the mass consumed, and incomplete removal during wastewater treatment (Stumpf et al.1999). The recent increase in detection of trace concentrations (typically less than a part per billion) of pharmaceuticals in water resources across the globe reflects improvements in laboratory analytical methods (Sedlak et al. 2000) and the associated increases in field surveys. The detection of pharmaceutical compounds in large rivers in Europe and in the North Sea (Buser et al. 1998; Ternes 1998; Stumpf et al. 1999) highlighted the fact that highly soluble, trace organic compounds, such as pharmaceuticals, may escape removal in wastewater treatment, and the mixing and concentration of wastewaters through conventional wastewater treatment processes could provide a means of delivering these chemicals to environmental waters in a manner that would contaminate water resources on a large scale at trace levels (Richardson and Bowron 1985). In the United States, some of the first detections of a limited number of pharmaceutically active compounds or their transformation products were found in waters associated with landfill leachates or sewage effluent (Tabak and Bunch 1970; Garrison et al. 1976; Hignite and Azarnoff 1977; Bouwer et al. 1982; Eckel et al. 1991) decades ago. At the time of these studies, other industrial contaminants were the focus of regulatory and scientific interest; therefore, further studies on the environmental occurrence and transport of pharmaceutical compounds were rare.

Additional publication details

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Occurrence of human pharmaceuticals in water resources of the United States: A review
Year Published 2004
Language English
Publisher Springer
Publisher location New York
Contributing office(s) Iowa Water Science Center, Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 15 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Monograph
Larger Work Title Pharmaceuticals in the environment
First page 91
Last page 105
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N