Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

William J. Doucette


William J. Doucette


Laurie S. McNeill


David K. Stevens


The occurrence of Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) in surface waters has become a growing concern within the last decade although the first mention of human PPCPs in the environment goes back to late 1970s. Pharmaceuticals include prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and veterinary drugs. Personal care products include products such as lotions, fragrances, and soaps. In addition to traditional personal care products, the term PPCPs has been adopted to represent a wide variety of chemicals used in consumer products including plasticizers and fire retardants. Wastewater effluents are thought to be the main source of PPCPs in surface waters since most pharmaceuticals and personal care products eventually are disposed of, directly or indirectly, into domestic sewage systems that are not specifically designed to treat them.

This thesis research examined the occurrence and removal of ten PPCPs in three Utah wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in the State of Utah. The ten PPCPs (caffeine, acetaminophen, sulfamethoxazole, tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate, carbamazepine, estrone, progesterone, gemfibrozil, 4-n-nonylphenol, and bis(2- ethylhexyl) phthalate) were selected for this study based on their chemical properties, environmental concern due to their widespread use, frequent detection in natural water, wastewater, and biosolids, and potential risk to the environmental and human health. The selected treatment technologies, represented by Brigham, Hyrum, and Spanish Fork WWTPs, were oxidation ditches, membrane bioreactors, and trickling filters. Influent, effluent and biosolids samples were collected in May, July, and August of 2011. The highest influent concentrations were measured for caffeine (3.9 – 15.4 μg/L) and acetaminophen (7.4 – 71.5 μg/L). Sulfamethoxazole, tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate, and carbamazepine were measured in the effluent of all three WWTPs. Removal efficiencies calculated from differences between influent and effluent concentrations were caffeine (>80%), acetaminophen (>99%), and sulfamethoxazole (>60%). Tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate, carbamazepine, and bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate were not consistently found above the method limits of quantitation (LOQs). The effluent concentrations of the measured PPCPs were below the levels of concern suggested by available toxicity data.




This work made publicly available electronically on June 4, 2012.