Pilot Study on PPCPs at Champaign and Urbana Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTPs)

Two important sources of PPCPs and hormones in the environment are municipal/industrial wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). WWTPs cannot completely eliminate all PPCPs and hormones, resulting in their discharge into the environment with effluent, while CAFO water is not required to undergo advanced treatment before it is reused.

In spring 2013, Dr. Wei Zheng, senior research scientist at ISTC, and his team— Beth Meschewski and Nancy Holm— began investigating the concentrations and occurrence of 16 PPCPs and hormones at the Champaign and Urbana WWTPs to establish baseline information for the area. Tertiary wastewater treatment plants are the dominant purification technology in urban areas and they have previously been found to be quite effective at removing some of the common PPCPs, but not others. Most WWTPs, though, were not designed to specifically handle these types of contaminants. This study determined how the different stages of tertiary treatment affect the chemical structure and occurrence of PPCPs and hormones in the effluent and surrounding aquatic environment. The compounds examined included acetaminophen, caffeine, carbamazepine, ciprofloxacin, diphenhydramine, erythromycin, fluoxetine, gemfibrozil, ibuprofen, naproxen, sulfamethazine, sulfamethoxazole, triclocarbon, triclosan, trimethoprim, and estrone.

The work is continuing and has been integrated into another ISTC project “PPCPs: Extending Knowledge and Mitigation Strategies.”

suspended solids and liquid from the aeration take are poured from a sampling bucket into a 4-liter amber glass sample bottle

Collecting a wastewater sample from the aeration tanks at the Champaign WWTP.