Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) can reach soil and aquatic environments through land application of wastewater effluent and agricultural runoff. The objective of this research was to assess the fate of PPCPs at field scale. PPCPs were measured systematically in a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP), and in soil and groundwater receiving treated effluent from the WWTP. A land application site in West Texas was used as the study site; it has received treated wastewater effluent from the WWTP for more than 70 years in order to remove additional nutrients and irrigate non-edible crops. Target compounds (estrone, 17β-estradiol, estriol, 17α- ethynylestradiol, triclosan, caffeine, ibuprofen, and ciprofloxacin) in wastewater, sewage sludge, soil, and groundwater were determined using HPLC/UV with qualitative confirmatory analyses using GC/MS. Samples were collected quarterly over 12 months for wastewater and sludge samples and over 9 months for soil and groundwater samples. Results indicated that concentrations of PPCPs in wastewater influent, effluent, sludge solid phase, and sludge liquid phase were in the range of non-detected (ND)-183 μg/L, ND-83 μg/L, ND-19 μg/g, and ND-50 μg/L, respectively. Concentrations in soil and groundwater samples were in the range of ND-319 ng/g and ND-1,745 μg/L, respectively. GC/MS confirmation data were consistent with the results of HPLC/UV analyses. Overall, data indicate that PPCPs in the wastewater effluent from the WWTP transport both vertically and horizontally in the soil, and eventually reach groundwater following land application of the effluent.
- Land application
- Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs)
- Soil contamination