Water: Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products
Expanded Investigations of Pharmaceuticals in Fish Tissue
To better understand whether pharmaceuticals get into rivers and streams, EPA has expanded its efforts to measure pharmaceuticals in fish tissue. Fish tissue is a sensitive indicator of what substances may be entering our waters.
In 2008, EPA completed a pilot study to analyze fish from five streams near wastewater treatment plants in Chicago, Dallas, Orlando, Phoenix, and suburban Philadelphia for 24 commonly-used pharmaceuticals. These sites are streams which receive wastewater from treatment facilities in areas where EPA speculated that there might be relatively heavy use of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (e.g., areas where there is a large elderly population or a greater number of households with higher incomes). Pilot studies such as these are valuable for testing methods and for determining whether further analysis and sampling may be needed. However, the results from pilot studies such as these cannot be used to draw conclusions about occurrence beyond the area actually tested.
Based on preliminary findings, EPA is adding sampling for pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) to its national survey of rivers and streams. This work will advance what we know about the occurrence of PPCPs in the environment. During 2008 and 2009, EPA and state teams will collect fish and surface water samples from about 150 randomly-selected urban river sites across the country (PDF) (1 pp., 158 K; About PDF). Surface water samples will be analyzed for 54 pharmaceuticals. Fish fillets will be analyzed for more than 20 pharmaceuticals and 15 personal care products. We will complete this work and report on our results in 2011. As of July 2008, fish tissue and water samples have been collected at 25 of the urban sites.