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Abstract

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.