Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Research Projects - Emerging Contaminants
Soil-column study. A proof-of-concept experiment was devised in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Water Conservation Laboratory to determine if emerging contaminants, as well as pathogens, found in treated effluent could be transported through a 2.4 m soil column and, thus, potentially reach ground water under recharge conditions similar to those in arid or semiarid climates. Samples were analyzed for 131 emerging contaminans including veterinary and human antibiotics, other prescription and nonprescription drugs, widely used household and industrial chemicals, steroids and reproductive hormones. After percolating through the soil column, 18 fewer compounds were detected in the effluent than the influent samples and the total concentration decreased by more than 70%. These compounds may have been subject to transformation (biotic and abiotic), adsorption, and (or) volatilization in the storage tank and during travel through the soil column. Eight compounds—carbamazapine; sulfamethoxazole; benzophenone; 5-methyl–1Hbenzotriazole; N, N-diethyltoluamide; tributylphosphate; tri(2-chloroethyl) phosphate; and cholesterol—were detected in both influent and effluent samples indicating they have the potential to reach ground water under recharge conditions similar to those in the soil column.
Cordy, G., Duran, N., Bower, H., Rice, R., Kolpin, D.W., Furlong, E.T., Zaugg, S.D., Meyer, M.T., and Barber, L.B., 2004, Do pharmaceuticals, pathogens, and other organic waste water compounds persist when waste water is used for recharge?: Ground Water Monitoring and Remediation, v. 24, no. 2, p. 58-69.