A Reconnaissance of Contaminants of Emerging Concern in Wastewater and Sludge from Three Publicly Owned Treatment Works in New Jersey: Research Project Summary



Date Removed

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Trenton, N.J. : New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Science and Research


The character of wastewater, landfill leachate, and sludge taken from three New Jersey regions (areas Q, X and Z) has been assessed for multiple contaminants of emerging concern to determine the likelihood of occurrence in various types of developed areas. Regions were determined based on land use and the projected character of wastewater. The distinct areas of land use that were the aim of this study consisted of residential, commercial, industrial (including two areas with pharmaceutical processing), and hospital/retirement areas. Areas contained various sub-sewersheds represented by a sampling station that was characterized by the land use type. The sampling sites selected in each of the three areas were intended to assess not only differences between the overall character of the area, but to assess the differences that may exist within the Areas, such as delineated areas with characteristics that describe residential, commercial, pharmaceutical, hospital and retirement communities and industrial sewersheds. Residential areas were found to contain the highest number and total mass of pesticides compared to other types of sewersheds and were found to have the highest number of detected hormone analytes. Among the PAH analytes in the commercial areas, phenol and p-cresol dominated the total concentration of PAHs, with the total PAH concentration in Area X being comprised of 70% p-cresol. The range of the total concentration of flavors and fragrances in residential areas was between 44 and 90 μg/L, whereas the range for all areas was between 20 and 165 μg/L. The number of flavors and fragrances detected in residential areas was also similar to other areas, having between nine and eleven compounds present. The only notable pharmaceutical group within the commercial areas were the stimulants, with the highest detection of caffeine, among all sewersheds, detected in the Area Z commercial sewershed. In all three commercial sewersheds, caffeine accounted for between 84 and 98% of the total stimulant group. The total concentration (6.034 μg/L to 272.5 μg/L) and the number of APEs (between seven and nine) detected in the Hospital and Retirement Community sewersheds were the highest among the types of sewersheds. A concentration of 260 μg/L of tri(2-butoxyethyl) phosphate (TBEB, flame retardant) was recorded in the Area Z retirement sewershed. In evaluating the results for the influent and effluent of the wastewater treatment plants, the varied detection limits attributed to interferences needs to be considered, particularly when including a value that is reported to be below the detection limit. Given the limited sample number, conclusions can only be considered preliminary.


Prepared by Judy Louis, Ph.D., R. Lee Lippincott, Ph.D., Sandra M. Goodrow, Ph.D., and Nicholas Procopio, Ph.D.


New Jersey