Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Product Pollution: Emerging Impacts on the Multixenobiotic Resistance System in Developing and Adult Model Marine Organisms

EPA Grant Number: F5D10663
Title: Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Product Pollution: Emerging Impacts on the Multixenobiotic Resistance System in Developing and Adult Model Marine Organisms
Investigators: McGinn, Nature A.
Institution: University of California - Davis
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: September 29, 2005 through June 1, 2008
Project Amount: $99,612
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2005) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships


Environmental contamination by pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) is an emerging issue worldwide. While PPCPs are usually introduced into the environment in quantities too small to cause acute toxicity in many model systems, scientific research has begun to focus on sub-lethal chronic effects of PPCP exposure. This low-level exposure is particularly relevant in aquatic environments where wastewater effluent is most often the source of PPCPs. Many organisms in coastal marine environments cope with pollutant exposure by using a multixenobiotic resistance (MXR) cellular defense system. Recent cancer and ecotoxicology research has shown that chemicals belong to a number of classes of PPCPs can modulate the MXR system in mammals and marine invertebrates. The objective of this study is to determine the effects of wastewater and specific PPCPs on early development and MXR in the model marine organisms, sea urchins, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, and mussels, Mytilus californianus.


This study will use protein and RNA analyses as well as functional assays to establish baseline levels of MXR in sea urchins and mussels. The same analyses will be used to examine changes in expression and function of MXR efflux proteins in relation to exposure of developing and adult animals to wastewater effluent and specific PPCPs in the field and in the laboratory. PPCP chemicals will also be screened for their potential as chemosensitizers of the MXR system to more potent toxic chemicals.

Expected Results:

If exposure to wastewater or specific PPCPs induces changes in MXR proteins, the results could be the basis for a first-stage screening tool for bioavailable environmental contamination. If PPCPs have detrimental effects on non-target marine organism development and MXR systems, the results from this study could be a stimulus for environmental regulation of PPCPs, changes in wastewater treatment, and changes in societal use and disposal of pharmaceuticals and personal care products.

Supplemental Keywords:

pharmaceuticals, personal care products, PPCPs, wastewater, multixenobiotic (multidrug) resistance, sea urchin, mussel, early development,, Scientific Discipline, Water, Wastewater, Environmental Chemistry, Environmental Monitoring, Ecological Risk Assessment, monitoring, pharmaceuticals, aquatic ecotoxicology, chemical contaminants, multixenobiotic resistance, biogeochemical cycling, municipal wastewater, animal research, wastewater discharges, effluents, organic contaminants

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2006
  • 2007
  • Final