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Environmental Health - Toxic Substances

Investigations - Contaminants of Emerging Concern in the Environment

Landfill Leachate

Ground water samples were collected and measured for emerging contaminants upgradient and downgradient of a municipal landfill.
Ground water samples were collected and measured for emerging contaminants upgradient and downgradient of a municipal landfill.

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Ground-water samples were collected upgradient and within a known leachate plume associated with the Toxics Program Norman Landfill Research Site in central Oklahoma. Ground-water samples were collected from five sites (one upgradient and four downgradient monitoring wells) in 2000 and analyzed for 76 emerging contaminants. Emerging contaminants were detected in water samples from all of the sites sampled, with 22 of 76 being detected at least once. Cholesterol (a plant and animal steroid), was detected at all five sites and was the only compound detected in a well upgradient of the landfill that was used for background data. N,N-diethyltoluamide (insect repellent) and tri(2-chloroethyl) phosphate (fire retardant) were detected in water samples from all four sites located within the landfill-derived leachate plume. The sites closest to the landfill had more detections and greater concentrations of each of the detected compounds than sites located further away. Detection of multiple contaminants occurred in the four sites located within the leachate plume, with a minimum of four and a maximum of 17 detected. Because the landfill was established in the 1920s and closed in 1985, many compounds detected in the leachate plume were likely disposed of decades ago. These results indicate the potential for long-term persistence and transport of some emerging contaminants in ground water.

Available Publications

Barnes, K.K., Christenson, S.C., Kolpin, D.W., Focazio, M.J., Furlong, E.T., Zaugg, S.D., Meyer, M.T., and Barber, L.B., 2004, Pharmaceuticals and other organic waste water contaminants within a leachate plume downgradient of a municipal landfill: Ground Water Monitoring and Remediation, v. 24, no. 2, p. 119-126.

More Information

  • Project contact: Kymm Barnes

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Page Last Modified: Monday, 25-Apr-2016 15:41:17 EDT