Wastewater treatment plants are not designed to remove the chemicals found in pharmaceuticals and personal care products. Instead, such chemicals enter waterways where their effects on aquatic ecosystems are largely unknown. A new study looks at how these compounds disrupt such ecosystems. WAMC’s Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Allison Dunne spoke with Emma Rosi, an aquatic ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York. She is co-author of the new study on the topic.
Rosi says studies with pharmaceuticals and personal care products are performed in artificial streams at the Cary Institute, because it is difficult to study these compounds and their ecological effects in nature, given all else that is going on in the environment.
She says studies show the diversity of compounds being found in the environment, in water samples. She points to a 2016 study from Cornell University and Riverkeeper that found a long and varied list of micropollutants in the Hudson River, from pesticides to pharmaceuticals.