Occurrence and fate of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) at a northern wastewater treatment facility

  • Author / Creator
    Yacura, Devon J
  • The occurrence of pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs) in municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) is an emerging environmental issue. Among other concerns, aquatic invertebrates sampled from WWTP have measurable concentrations of PPCPs, which have been found to cause adverse effects in the growth and development of birds when consumed. The Livingstone Trail Environmental Control Facility (LTECF) is the municipal wastewater treatment facility for the City of Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada (lat. 60o43’N, long. 135o03’W). The LTECF is a constructed wetland that hosts a high diversity and abundance of waterfowl, which may be attracted to the facility due to the abundance of aquatic invertebrates. Risk of PPCP accumulation in waterfowl feeding at the LTECF is a concern because the facility may be acting as an ecological trap. This research was the first of its kind at the LTECF and represents a first step in understanding the potential risk to waterfowl feeding at the LTECF. The main objectives of the study were to 1) quantify the occurrence of PPCPs in water, sludge, aquatic invertebrates, and algae, and 2) quantify the removal efficiency, seasonal variation, and bioaccumulation of PPCPs at the LTECF. Water, sludge, aquatic invertebrates, and algae were sampled from the primary, secondary and tertiary stages of treatment in the spring, summer and fall in 2013 and 2014. The PPCPs with the highest concentrations in water were: acetaminophen (150 µg/L), caffeine (100 µg/L) and ibuprofen (10 µg/L), consistent with other studies of WWTP. The PPCPs with the highest concentrations in sludge, aquatic invertebrates and algae were two antimicrobials, triclosan (93,000 ng/g, 36 ng/g, and 210 ng/g, respectively) and triclocarban (31,000 ng/g; 29 µg/g; 47 ng/g, respectively), also consistent with other WWTP studies. Estrogens and synthetic musks were among the PPCPs with the lowest concentrations in all media. Generally, PPCP removal efficiencies at the LTECF were equal to, if not exceeding those reported from other WWTP studies, including both conventional wastewater treatment plants and constructed wetlands. The high removal rates at the LTECF may be attributed to the exceptionally long hydraulic retention time and large surface area of the treatment cells, subjecting the chemicals to prolonged periods of photo- and biodegradation. Concentrations of PPCPs were significantly lower in spring than in summer and fall, likely from dilution of the wastewater entering the LTECF during the winter and spring. There was no significant difference between summer and fall PPCP concentrations in any stage of treatment. Triclocarban was the only PPCP at the LTECF to be classified as bioaccumulative, according to the Persistence and Bioaccumulation Regulations in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. An ecological risk assessment for triclocarban has been recommended for future research at the LTECF.

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  • Degree
    Master of Science
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    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.