U.S. Department of Commerce


Date of this Version



Published in Science of the Total Environment 437 (2012) 1–9. Doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.07.076


This study assessed seasonal and regional trends of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) detected in monthly samples from two local wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in Charleston, South Carolina, USA, over the period of one year. Surface water of Charleston Harbor was also analyzed to examine environmental distribution in an estuarine ecosystem. Of the 19 compounds examined, 11 were quantified in wastewater influent, 9 in effluent, and 7 in surface water. Aqueous concentrations of many PPCPs were reduced by >86% in wastewater effluent compared with influent, though some compounds showed low removal and greater effluent concentrations compared with influent (e.g. estrone and fluoxetine). Differences in effluent concentrations and estimated removal between facilities were likely related to variations in the facilities' operating procedures. Surface water concentrations were generally reduced by >90% for those chemicals found in effluent. Additionally, there were seasonal trends that indicate reduced degradation in colder months in wastewater and surface water. To our knowledge, this is the first study examining PPCPs in the South Atlantic Bight.