Date of Award


Document Type



Environmental Science

Thesis Advisor

Russell Briggs


Soil pollution, Wastewater


Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) are largely produced, consumed, and detected readily in wastewater effluent. Municipal wastewater land application to managed forests is an important treatment and disposal practice globally, with 86 municipal facilities located in North Carolina. However, the concentrations and transport of PPCPs and their potential impacts in these systems are largely unknown. The objective of this study was to assess PPCPs in forested soils at a municipal land application site in North Carolina, U.S.A. Soil cores were hand-augured at the surface (0-10 cm) and at depth (50-60 cm) along two transects within the wastewater irrigation area and at a reference site outside of the irrigation area. Thirty-three PPCP analytes were targeted using solid-phase extraction (SPE) and concentration, and separated and quantified via liquid chromatography - mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Relationships between PPCP analyte concentrations and soil characteristics (e.g. soil depth, soil texture, carbon concentration, humic matter content, cation exchange capacity, and pH), were evaluated. From this study, 25 of the 33 targeted PPCP analytes were detected in the soil at very low concentrations (ng/g of soil), indicating leaching and potentially some mitigation by the forest system. Generally, PPCPs were present at higher concentrations in the surface soil. No significant correlations were observed between soil characteristics and the presence and concentration of PPCPs; however, cation exchange capacity and carbon content did positively correlate with the concentration of carbamazepine, a rather persistent chemical detected at every site in only the surface horizon.