Pharmaceutical compounds in the wastewater process stream in Northwest Ohio

Sci Total Environ. 2008 Jul 1;397(1-3):148-57. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2008.02.042. Epub 2008 Apr 8.


In order to add to the current state of knowledge regarding occurrence and fate of Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products (PPCP's) in the environment, influent, effluent and biosolids from three wastewater treatment facilities in Northwest Ohio, USA, and a stream containing effluent discharge from a rural treatment facility were analyzed. The three WWTP facilities vary in size and in community served, but are all Class B facilities. One facility was sampled multiple times in order to assess temporal variability. Twenty compounds including several classes of antibiotics, acidic pharmaceuticals, and prescribed medications were analyzed using ultrasonication extraction, SPE cleanup and liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry. The highest number of compounds and the greatest concentrations were found in the influent from the largest and most industrial WWTP facility. Short-term temporal variability was minimal at this facility. Many compounds, such as clarithromycin, salicylic acid and gemfibrizol were found at concentrations more than one order of magnitude higher than found in the effluent samples. Effluent waters contained elevated levels of carbamazepine, clindamycin and sulfamethoxazole. Differences in composition and concentration of effluent waters between facilities existed. Biosolid samples from two different facilities were very similar in PPCP composition, although concentrations varied. Ciprofloxacin was found in biosolids at concentrations (up to 46 mug/kg dry mass) lower than values reported elsewhere. Diclofenac survived the WWTP process and was found to persist in stream water incorporating effluent discharge. The low variability within one plant, as compared to the variability found among different wastewater treatment plants locally and in the literature is likely due to differences in population, PPCP usage, plant operations and/or local environment. These data are presented here for comparison with this emerging set of environmental compounds of concern.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Industrial Waste
  • Ohio
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / analysis*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sewage / analysis*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*


  • Industrial Waste
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Sewage
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical