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Water: Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products

Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW) Wastewater Sampling Study

Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs), including flame retardants, hormones, pharmaceuticals, steroids, nonylphenols, and pesticides, are increasingly being detected in the environment and there is concern that wastewater may be a significant source of these pollutants. To better understand the extent to which CECs may be entering water through this pathway, EPA has sampled nine Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs) to characterize the occurrence of a variety of pharmaceuticals and other CECs.

EPA is releasing the results of the Nine POTW Study. EPA identified several Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) in untreated and fully treated wastewater samples collected at nine, non-randomly selected publicly owned treatment works (POTWs). EPA targeted POTWs likely to have CECs in the influent based on the industries or populations served by each facility. These nine sets of occurrence results do not represent a national profile of the potential presence of CECs at the thousands of wastewater facilities in the United States.

EPA analyzed for over 100 chemicals that are representative of several types of pharmaceuticals, personal care products, steroids, hormones, flame retardants, and pesticides. The results of these sampling efforts are published in the “Occurrence of Contaminants of Emerging Concern in Wastewater from Nine POTWs.”

To conduct this study, EPA developed new state-of-the-art analytical methods to identify and measure CECs.

Analytical Methods for Contaminants of Emerging Concern

Two new methods were developed for this study. These two methods can measure up to 27 steroids/hormones, and 74 prescription or OTC drugs.

  • EPA Method 1694 for Pharmaceuticals
  • EPA Method 1698 for Steroids and Hormones

The methods have been peer-reviewed and tested in a single lab.

In addition to the two new CEC related methods developed for this study, EPA has single lab validated a new pesticide method and revised the existing flame retardant (PBDE) method in order to more accurately detect CECs in wastewater samples.

  • EPA Method 1699 for Pesticides
  • EPA Method 1614 for Poly Brominated Diphenyl Ethers

These four methods have not been promulgated at 40 CFR Part 136, but are available for use.

For More Information

  • Field Studies: Brian D'Amico (damico.brian@epa.gov) at (202) 566-1069
  • Analytical Methods: Brian Englert (englert.brian@epa.gov) at (202) 566-0754
  • Study Management: Dick Reding (reding.richard@epa.gov) at (202) 566-2237

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