Occurrence and Fate of Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products in Groundwater Environments

EPA Grant Number: R829007
Title: Occurrence and Fate of Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products in Groundwater Environments
Investigators: Brownawell, Bruce J. , Iden, Charles R.
Institution: The State University of New York at Stony Brook
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Project Period: September 21, 2001 through September 20, 2004 (Extended to September 20, 2005)
Project Amount: $495,955
RFA: Drinking Water (2000) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Drinking Water , Water Quality , Water


A combination of field and laboratory approaches will be used to characterize the occurrence and fate of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in groundwaters.

The primary objectives of the proposed study are to: (1) determine the distribution of a wide range of highly used or toxicologically significant PPCPs and environmental estrogens in point source discharges and in groundwaters that receive those discharges; and (2) assess the likelihood of migration of PPCPs through sand-gravel aquifers using a combination of field observations and laboratory studies. The secondary objectives are to: (1) develop new HPLC-MS methods to determine conjugated steroid hormone metabolites in wastewater effluent and groundwaters to determine the possible role of these conjugates in solubilizing and transporting hormones in groundwaters; and (2) compare the distribution and likely behavior of PPCPs in subsurface environments with that observed in surface waters. This will help determine the relative risks associated with discharge of human wastes to these two environments.


The vulnerability of groundwaters to contamination with PPCP discharges will be studied by comparing the groundwater distributions of PPCPs in areas of different land use (i.e., sewered vs. unsewered residential communities) and by determining distributions in groundwaters affected by known point source of PPCPs to the subsurface (sewage treatment plant discharges, landfill leachates, and cesspools). Laboratory sorption and transformation studies will support interpretations and test hypotheses generated from the field data.

Expected Results:

This project will fill important data gaps with respect to the distribution, transport, and fate of a wide range of PPCPs in groundwaters. Measurements of PPCPs in groundwaters near potentially important sources would provide valuable end-member information with which to estimate risk to drinking water supplies. Given the low detection limits afforded by HPLC-ESI-MS, it will be possible make PPCP concentration measurements in groundwater that will typically be much lower than those in source waters, assuring that it will be possible to make useful interpretations from those data concerning fate and transport. This groundwater-based study will complement other recent or concurrent studies of surface waters in the U.S. and abroad by other investigators, and provide a greater knowledge base needed for comparing relative risks for disposal PPCPs to surface and subsurface environments. The data generated in this project will also provide the most comprehensive study to date of environmental estrogens in groundwaters.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 29 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 6 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

drinking water, environmental chemistry, analytical, emerging contaminants, environmental estrogens., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Water, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Wastewater, Environmental Chemistry, Health Risk Assessment, Fate & Transport, Analytical Chemistry, Environmental Monitoring, Drinking Water, monitoring, fate and transport, aquifer characteristics, human health effects, pharmaceuticals, exposure and effects, pharmacokinetics, estrogen, transformation studies, exposure, other - risk assessment, chemical contaminants, personal care products, kinetic studies, treatment, wastewater systems, hormones, wastewater discharges, drinking water contaminants, effluents, drinking water system, groundwater

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2002 Progress Report
  • 2003 Progress Report
  • 2004 Progress Report
  • Final Report