Pharmaceuticals and Other Organic Waste Water Contaminants Within a Leachate Plume Downgradient of a Municipal Landfill


  • Kimberlee K. Barnes,

    1. Kimberlee K. Barnes (U.S. Geological Survey [USGS], 400 S. Clinton St., Federal Bldg., Rm. 269, Iowa City, IA 52244; [319] 358–3618; fax [319]-358–3606; is a hydrologist and the GIS specialist for the Iowa District of the USGS. She has a B.A. in chemistry from the University of Iowa and has worked on various projects since 1988, most recently the National Water Quality Assessment Program, Eastern Iowa Basins study. Her research interests include the occurrence of emerging contaminants in surface water and ground water.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Scott C. Christenson,

    1. Scott C. Christenson (USGS, 202 NW 66th St., Bldg. 7, Oklahoma City, OK 73116; [405] 810–4409; fax [405] 843–7712; is a hydrologist with the USGS in Oklahoma City. He has a B.S. and an M.S. in geology. He has worked as a hydrologist for the USGS for 27 years and serves as coordinator for the Norman Landfill Toxic Substances Hydrology Program research site.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Dana W. Kolpin,

    1. Dana W. Kolpin (USGS, 400 S. Clinton St., Iowa City, IA 52244; [319] 358–3614; fax [319] 358–3060; is a research hydrologist and has worked for the USGS since 1984. His research interests include the occurrence of pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and other emerging contaminants in the environment.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Michael J. Focazio,

    1. Michael J. Focazio (USGS, 12201 Sunrise Valley Dr., Reston, VA 20192; [703] 648–6808; fax [703] 648–5722; is a hydrologist with the Office of Water Quality, USGS. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut in 1988.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Edward T. Furlong,

    1. Edward T. Furlong (USGS, MS 407, Denver, CO 80225; [303] 236–3941; fax [303] 236–3499; received a B.S. in marine science from Long Island University, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in chemical oceanography from the University of Washington. He was a post-doctoral fellow in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs and the Department of Chemistry at Indiana University, working with Professor Ronald A. Hues. Since 1987, he has been a research chemist in the Methods Research and Development Program of the National Water Quality Laboratory, USGS. His research interests are focused on the application of MS techniques to the analysis of trace organic compounds of environmental interest. Current research includes development and application of HPLC/MS and HPLC/MS/MS methods for the determination of pesticides and pesticide degradation products, as well as Pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical degradation products in environmental samples.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Steven D. Zaugg,

    1. Steven D. Zaugg (USGS, MS 407, Denver, CO 80225; [303] 236–3269; fax [303] 236–3499; has worked as an analytical chemist for the USGS since 1987. His current research interests include developing SPE techniques, as well as accelerated solvent extraction techniques for water and sediment analysis of pesticides and emerging contaminants in the environment by GC/MS.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Michael T. Meyer,

    1. Michael T. Meyer (USGS, 4821 Quail Crest Place, Lawrence, KS 66049–3839; [785] 832–3544; fax [785] 832–3500; has been a research geochemist with the USGS since 1988. He received a Ph.D. in geology from the University of Kansas in 1994. His research is focused on the development of methods for the analysis of emerging organic contaminants (e.g., herbicide metabolites and pharmaceuticals) and determining their occurrence, fate, and geochemical transport in the environment. Currently he is director of the USGS, Kansas District, Organic Geochemistry Research Laboratory.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Larry B. Barber

    1. Larry B. Barber (USGS, 3215 Marine St., Ste. E-127, Boulder, CO 80303; [303] 541–3039; fax [303] 447–2505; is a research geochemist and has been with the USGS for 20 years. His current research interests are occurrence and fate of waste water-derived contaminants in surface water and ground water systems.
    Search for more papers by this author


Ground water samples collected from the Norman Landfill research site in central Oklahoma were analyzed as part of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program's national reconnaissance of pharmaceuticals and other organic waste water contaminants (OWCs) in ground water. Five sites, four of which are located downgradient of the landfill, were sampled in 2000 and analyzed for 76 OWCs using four research methods developed by the USGS. OWCs were detected in water samples from all of the sites sampled, with 22 of the 76 OWCs being detected at least once. Cholesterol (a plant and animal steroid), was detected at all five sites and was the only compound detected in a well upgradient of the landfill. N,N-diethyltoluamide (DEBT used in insect repellent) and tri(2-chloroethyl) phosphate (fire-retardant) were detected in water samples from all four sites located within the landfill-derived leachate plume. The sites closest to the landfill had more detections and greater concentrations of each of the detected compounds than sites located farther away. Detection of multiple OWCs occurred in the four sites located within the leachate plume, with a minimum of four and a maximum of 17 OWCs detected. Because the landfill was established in the 1920s and closed in 1985, many compounds detected in the leachate plume were likely disposed of decades ago. These results indicate the potential for long-term persistence and transport of some OWCs in ground water.