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Rx for Action

A blog devoted to helping people find local medicine take-back programs and highlighting current research findings and pending legislation.

Pharmaceuticals and personal care products in the San Francisco Bay

A new study on pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs) in San Francisco Bay revealed that human use of these products doesn't entirely explain their accumulation in the natural environment. Collaborative work between the San Francisco Estuary Institute and AXYS Analytical Services monitored for 108 target compounds in water and wild mussel samples and 74 compounds in sediment samples.

The study, published in the February 2013 issue of Environment International, piloted analytical methods that expanded the number of chemicals that scientists could detect. While 30% of target compounds were measured in surface water, 18% in sediment samples, and 18% in mussel tissue samples, the detected compounds weren't always those products most commonly used by San Francisco area residents. For example, cocaine was detected in mussel tissues, while triclosan, an antibacterial product commonly found in wastewater, was not identified in any of the samples.

Bay PPCP levels were lower than those usually measured in streams receiving water from wastewater treatment plants. Part of the reason for this is that the Bay is flushed by tides and many of the plants discharging water to the study area are using advanced technology that helps remove PPCPs. While the levels of PPCPs measured are not known to be toxic to wildlife, the authors pointed out that their results do not address the issue of long-term wildlife exposure to PPCPs.

Klosterhaus, S. L., R. Grace, M. C. Hamilton, and D. Yee. 2013. Method validation and reconnaissance of pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and alkylphenols in surface waters, sediments, and mussels in an urban estuary. Environmental International, 54: 92-99. Retrieved from:

Written by Corrie Layfield

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Posted by Laura Kammin at 12:22PM on 4/10/2013
Categories: Latest Research