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Since 1998, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has been developing analytical capabilities to measure pharmaceuticals and other organic wastewater contaminants (OWCs) in a variety of environmental matrices. Currently, the USGS can analyze more than 140 OWCs using a variety of LC/MS and GC/MS techniques. To date, over 500 samples from across the United States, representing a wide range of climatic and hydrologic conditions, have been analyzed for OWCs. Early research focused on broad-scale reconnaissance studies, providing the first nationwide data on the occurrence of OWCs in water resources of the United States. These results documented that OWCs are present in streams and, to a lesser extent, aquifers, particularly at sites that are immediately downstream or down gradient of contaminant sources. Some of the most frequently detected compounds included cholesterol (plant and animal steroid), DEET (insect repellent), caffeine (stimulant), triclosan (antimicrobial disinfectant), and tri(2-chloroethyl)phosphate (fire retardant). Prescription pharmaceuticals and antibiotics also have been detected at ng/L concentrations. Detection of multiple OWCs was common whenever an individual OWC was detected, with as many as 38 OWCs being found in a single water sample. This manuscript consists of excerpts of previously published information or presentations by the U.S. Geological Survey on occurrence of pharmaceuticals and organic wastewater compounds in water resources of the United States.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2005-01-01

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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