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Wastewater & Onsite Systems | Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs)


PPCP Impacts on Water Resources

One of NEIWPCC’s core goals is the coordination and implementation of research initiatives, both in conjunction with and on behalf of our member states. Research regarding pharmaceuticals and personal care products is a high priority to our member states as environmental and health officials at the federal, state, and local levels are increasingly in need of accurate, reliable data from which to make sound policy decisions.

The following are Research Areas of Interest as they relate to PPCPs in the aquatic environment and are topic of interest for future research projects:

Impacts on Other NEIWPCC Programs

Water Utilities (Drinking Water and Wastewater)
As information about ECs and PPCPs become more readily available and scientifically accurate, water utilities like drinking water and wastewater treatment plants are answering new tough questions and facing increasing scrutiny as they are perceived as the vehicle for public PPCP exposure.

Aquatic Ecosystems
While information on the effects of long term low-dosage exposure of ECs and PPCPs on humans is still being collected, the effects on aquatic organisms and ecosystems has been observed, studied, and documented. A significant portion of these studies have focused on hormone disruption in aquatic organisms caused by exposure to trace organic compounds. An increase in the discovery of intersex organisms, i.e. fish having developed male and female reproductive organisms, has led scientists to question the environmental impact of low doses of hormones. The table below, taken from the Nov. 2008 AWWA Journal article “Emerging Compounds: A Concern for Water and Wastewater Utilities,” highlights some of the potential ecological effects of trace compounds found in wastewater effluent.


Class of Compound

Typical Concentration in Effluent

Potential Ecological or Human Health Effects



Up to 1 µg/L

Endocrine disrupting

Antibiotics, painkillers, caffeine, birth-control pill, antiepileptics

Personal care products

Up to 1 µg/L

Bioaccumulative, endocrine disrupting

Soaps, fragrances, triclosan

Detergent metabolites

Up to 180 µg/L

Bioaccumulative, endocrine disrupting

Ocylphenol, nonylphenol


Up to 10 µg/L

Weakly endocrine disrupting

Phthalate esters, bisphenol A

Perfluorooctane surfactants

Up to 1 µg/L

None at environmentally relevant concentrations

Stain-resistant coating for clothing and furnature

Brominated flame retardants

Up to 30 µg/L

Bioaccumulative, suspended endocrine disruptors

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers

Disinfection by-products

Up to 1 µg/L




Research on pharmaceuticals and personal care products explores interactions between chemicals and the environment, the impact of wastewater and drinking water treatment processes on PPCPs, exposure impacts on aquatic biota, landfill leachate concentrations of PPCPs, and much more. The research listed here provides a detailed picture of the PPCP research occurring in the New England and New York region. National studies of particular interest, or national studies that have taken data from a New England/New York site, are also listed. This list will be maintained and updated to help promote regional research coordination.

Current Research and Databases

Ongoing projects


Clearinghouses of Studies/Reports

NEIWPCC Sponsored Conferences


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