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Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products

Many chemicals in pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) are found at trace levels in treated wastewater discharged from sewage treatment plants. Even in modern, high-performance treatments plants, some PPCPs are not completely broken down and persist in wastewater discharge. Such released wastewater often creates an aquatic environment that supports wetlands and streamside vegetation or may recharge the groundwater.

Potential Impacts

Although many of these chemicals are present at levels far too low to have any effect on humans or wetland animals, scientists have detected some of the chemicals at levels linked to adverse impacts on the reproductive systems of certain species of fish and frogs that depend on waters influenced by treated wastewater.

Although scientists have detected very low levels of some PPCPs in some drinking water systems, they have not documented adverse public impacts from these levels to date. However, they are actively researching these issues.


ADEQ supports research at Arizona universities to determine whether and how processes in the sewage treatment plant can be changed to most effectively remove these chemicals.

You can help prevent these chemicals from entering into the sewer by properly disposing of unused pharmaceuticals | Learn How >