Skip to main content
ppcp sampling in East Canyon Creek, Utah

PPCPs in East Canyon Creek, UT

Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) are finding their way into many of Utah's surface waters. Researchers are seeking to understand the environmental fate and impact of PPCPs originating from WWTPs and investigating the seasonal variations in PPCP levels in East Canyon Creek, Utah, where several PPCPs have been identified in fish collected downstream of the Synderville wastewater treatment plant (WWTP).

ppcp sampling

Study Area:

East Canyon Creek, UT (Salt Lake Co.)

Principal Investigators:

William J. Doucette (


Michael Luers (Snyderville Basin Water Reclamation District)

outline map of Utah

Project Description

Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) finding their way into surface waters is a growing concern. In addition to prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, lotions, fragrances, and soaps, the term PPCPs has been adopted to represent a wide variety of chemicals used in consumer products, including plasticizers and fire retardants. Wastewater effluents have been shown to be a major source of PPCPs in surface waters since most PPCPs are disposed of, directly or indirectly, into domestic sewage systems that are not specifically designed to treat them.

The Synderville WWTP effluent discharges directly into East Canyon Creek, Utah, and during the late summer, the effluent can be the major component of the total stream flow. Several PPCPs were identified in fish collected from East Canyon Creek, Utah, downstream of the Synderville wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) in November and December 2008 (Baylor University). The same research group plans additional monitoring of PPCPs in fish this summer.

To better understand the potential impact of PPCPs originating from the Synderville WWTP, the main objectives of this proposed research are to determine the seasonal variation in PPCP loading to East Canyon creek from the Synderville WWTP and determine the extent of PPCP concentrations in the sediments, sediment dwelling organisms, and aquatic plants downstream from the plant.

water sampling in East Canyon Creek, UT Synderville treatment plant


Water, sediment and plant samples were collected from the point where the WWTP discharges into East Canyon Creek and at one upstream (Site -1) and two downstream locations (Sites +1, +2). Several PPCPs were identified at Sites q, +1 and +2, but not at Site -1, strongly suggesting that the WWTP was the source of these compounds. Sediment and plant samples are currently being extracted an analyzed.

Sampling efforts are ongoing, and future work will examine the relationship between PPCP concentrations in water, sediment, and plants to better understand the fate of these compounds in effluent dominated rivers.

graphic showing results

Benefits to Utah

Results from this study will contribute to an overall understanding of the environmental fate and impact of PPCPs originating from WWTPs and will provide important information on the seasonal variability of PPCP loading to the East Canyon Creek. The sediment, sediment organism, and plant concentration data will help delineate potential routes of exposure to East Canyon Creek fish.

This project will have a direct and positive impact on Utah citizens because WWTP are located throughout the state of Utah. An improved understanding of the fate of PPCP in surface waters by regulatory agencies such as the Utah DEQ will also enable the more efficient expenditure of public dollars based on risk management prioritization that will be made possible by this information.

Instrumentation / Workflows

LC-MS-MS analysis of pharmaceuticals with the QqQ. (Are there any instruments or workflows you would like to emphasize? and/or a picture of such?)