Date of Award

May 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Freshwater Sciences

First Advisor

Rebecca D. Klaper

Committee Members

Jenny Kehl, Laura Grant, Zhen He, Timothy Grundl


Biodegradation, Lake Michigan, Management, Pharmaceuticals, Policy, Wastewater


Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) are a critical part of modern life. However, there is growing evidence that the levels of PPCPs detected in wastewater effluent and in the environment have the potential to cause damage to aquatic organisms. These pollutants enter the aquatic environment primarily through human use, disposal in the drain or toilet, land application of biosolids, and veterinary sources. Numerous questions remain regarding the occurrence, fate, and impacts of PPCPs in wastewater, along with limited feasible management recommendations that would adequately mitigate the risk from these pollutants. This dissertation will present three advances in the field of PPCPs in the aquatic environment: 1) An experiment that describes the occurrence of PPCPs in a large scale urban wastewater treatment plant and the assessment of a model that predicts the removal of these PPCPs across the different wastewater treatment processes; 2) A study that monitors the occurrence of PPCPs in Lake Michigan and an assessment of the ecological risks at the detected levels; and 3) A case study that provides an analysis of current wastewater treatment regulations (e.g. requiring phosphorus removal from wastewater) and whether the regulations can be modified to remove unregulated PPCPs. Overall, this research provides an assessment of the fate, occurrence, and corresponding ecological damage from PPCPs in wastewater and the environment, along with an evaluation of a potential management technique. The major contribution of this work is to further the understanding of the distribution and fate of PPCPs in the aquatic environment, which can ultimately be used to assist in constructing relevant policy and management recommendations.