Pharmaceuticals from Wastewater in Streams Draining a Forested Watershed on the Cumberland Plateau

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Teasley, Erica
Bennett, Julie
Crider, Callie
McGrath, Deborah
Smith, Ken
Issue Date
Scholarship Sewanee 2011 , University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee , Undergraduate Research , Pharmaceuticals , Wastewater , Sewanee Utility District
Research has increasingly focused on the excretion of pharmaceuticals into the environment through wastewater effluent. Wastewater treatment at the Sewanee Utility District involves biodegradation of sewage passing through open lagoons. In lieu of discharging the treated wastewater directly into streams, the effluent is discharged onto 65 acres of hardwood forest. Using Polar Organic Chemical Integrative Samplers, we sampled water from rain-fed lakes, raw sewage, treated effluent and streams draining the watershed to determine if the treatment process removes pharmaceuticals. The samplers were analyzed using HPLC triple quadrapole MS/MS. Twice as many pharmaceuticals were found in the raw sewage from Fall 2010 compared to Summer 2010. No pharmaceuticals were present the drinking water lakes nor in two of the streams draining the watershed. Methamphetamine and ephedrine were present in one stream. Further study is necessary to determine whether tertiary treatment through forest application reduces the presence of pharmaceuticals in stream water.