EPA Science Inventory



Daughton, C. G. UBIQUITOUS POLLUTANTS FROM CUMULATIVE PERSONAL PRACTICES - STEWARDSHIP OF THE WATER CYCLE. Presented at Groundwater Resources Association (GRA) 11th Annual Meeting and Conference, Newport Beach, CA, September 18-19, 2002.


The occurrence of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPS) as environmental pollutants is a multifaceted issue whose scope continues to become better delineated since the escalation of concerted attention beginning in the 1980s. PPCPs typically occur as trace environmental pollutants (primarily in surface but also in ground waters) as a result of their widespread, continuous, combined usage in a broad range of human and veterinary therapeutic activities and practices. With respect to the risk-assessment paradigm, the growing body of published work has focused primarily on the origin and occurrence of these substances. Comparatively less is known about human and ecological exposure, and even less about the known or even potential hazards associated with exposure to these anthropogenic substances, many of which are highly bioactive.

The continually growing, worldwide importance of freshwater resources underscores the need for ensuring that any aggregate or cumulative impacts on water supplies and resultant potential for human or ecological exposure be minimized. This has prompted the more recent investigations on waste treatment processes for one of the major sources of environmental disposition, namely sewage.

Despite the paucity of health effects data for long-term, simultaneous exposure to multiple xenobiotics (particularly PPCPS) at low doses (a major toxicological issue that can be described by the "4T's" --- Toxicant Totality Tolerance Trajectory), a wide range of proactive actions could be implemented in the near-term (and research initiated for the longer term) for reducing or minimizing the introduction of PPCPs to the environment. These actions and activities fall in the category of pollution prevention (or source reduction, minimization, or elimination), a particular aspect of the risk paradigm (i.e., risk management) that has received very little attention.

Many of the actions that can be envisioned for pollution prevention fall under what could be envisioned as a holistic ("cradle-to-cradle") life-cycle stewardship program - overseen by the healthcare industry and consumers alike. Significantly, such a stewardship program would benefit not just the environment - additional, seemingly unrelated benefits could automatically accrue, including lessening medication expense for the consumer and improving overall patient health and consumer safety.


The research focused on in the subtasks is the development and application of state-of the-art technologies to meet the needs of the public, Office of Water, and ORD in the area of Water Quality. Located In the subtasks are the various research projects being performed in support of this Task and more in-depth coverage of each project. Briefly, each project's objective is stated below.

Subtask 1: To integrate state-of-the-art technologies (polar organic chemical integrative samplers, advanced solid-phase extraction methodologies with liquid chromatography/electrospray/mass spectrometry) and apply them to studying the sources and fate of a select list of PPCPs. Application and improvement of analytical methodologies that can detect non-volatile, polar, water-soluble pharmaceuticals in source waters at levels that could be environmentally significant (at concentrations less than parts per billion, ppb). IAG with USGS ends in FY05. APM 20 due in FY05.

Subtask 2: Coordination of interagency research and public outreach activities for PPCPs. Participate on NSTC Health and Environment subcommittee working group on PPCPs. Web site maintenance and expansion, invited technical presentations, invited articles for peer-reviewed journals, interviews for media, responding to public inquiries.

Subtask 3: To apply state-of-the-art environmental forensic techniques to the recognition and characterization of emerging pollutants in the aquatic environment. There is a need for high sensitivity and for a powerful method of structural characterization, advanced mass spectrometric and chromatographic techniques to be employed to meet the challenge of emerging pollutants, including pharmaceuticals and personal care products, agents of sabotage, and explosives. Ongoing efforts continue to identify previously unrecognized pollutants from a range of problematic samples having importance to regional and state contacts.

Subtask 4: To provide the Agency with a set of practical analytical methods for the selective and sensitive determination of selenium species (organic, inorganic, volatile and non volatile forms) in multiple media to accurately assess and if necessary control the risk of selenium exposure to organisms. This includes development of optimal extraction, digestion, separation and detection approaches.

Subtask 5: To develop and apply an analytical method that can extract and detect synthetic musks. The extent of exposure may be determined by measuring levels of synthetic musks from their potential source (communal sewage effluent). This subtask ends in FY05 with the deliverable of APM 21. Future applications to biosolids will be covered in subtask 6.

Subtask 6: Application, and improvement, of previously in-house developed sensitive, robust, and green, methodologies regarding the use of urobilin and sterols as a possible markers of sewage contamination.

Subtask 7: Adaptation and improvement of previously developed in-house methods, for PPCPs (e.g., antibiotics and musks) to solid materials (e.g. biosolids, sediments).

Subtask 8: Study of the presence of personal care products, incombustible organic compounds from the direct-piping of small engines exhaust in Lake Tahoe, and lake deposition of airborne pollutants from industrial activity

Record Details:

Start Date: 09/18/2002
Completion Date: 09/18/2002
Record Last Revised: 06/06/2005
Record Created: 09/26/2003
Record Released: 09/26/2003
Record ID: 62409