Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

John A. Bergendahl, Advisor




Pharmaceuticals are a group of emerging organic compounds of environmental concern used extensively in human and veterinary medicine. They are continually released into the environment as a result of manufacturing operations and excretion from humans and animals. These compounds enter directly into the municipal sewage systems and into wastewater treatment plants. A large number of important and potentially harmful organic contaminants, such as these pharmaceuticals, are not regulated in drinking and other waters. As a result, conventional technologies at most waste water treatment plants (WWTPs) discharge water that meet regulatory standards, yet are not specifically designed to remove these organic contaminants. Therefore, pharmaceutical compounds and their metabolites remain in discharged effluent and enter into the natural aquatic environment. Concentrations of pharmaceutical residues measured in water are typically reported in the ranges of ug/L to ng/L, which are at least three to four orders of magnitude lower than that required to produce a pharmacological effect. The probability of risks to humans arising from such an acute exposure is unlikely, but the possible effects resulting from life-long exposures and synergistic effects from exposure to many chemicals have yet to be determined. It has been widely reported that pharmaceuticals and their metabolites that enter into the aquatic environment can have a potential harmful effect on the aquatic ecosystem and can reach drinking water sources. This research focuses on non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), a group of pharmaceuticals which are widely used as analgesic, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory agents. NSAIDs are frequently used because they are easily accessible as over the counter medication and are a group of drugs that do not produce addiction, respiratory depression, or drowsiness. There is an incentive for removing NSAIDs and other pharmaceuticals from the aquatic environment. Thus, quantitative evaluation of the fate of pharmaceuticals, proper risk assessment and improvement of the efficiency of WWTPs need sensitive and reliable analytical methods. The purpose of this project was to provide a method for detecting three common NSAIDs, IBF, KTF, and NAP, in purified water with LLE-GC-FID. And, an investigation of UV photolysis, UV/H2O2, and UV/TiO2 AOPs was performed to determine their effectiveness in treating IBF, KTF, and NAP in purified water. All treatment methods were successful in degrading target compounds with a total degradation of 86% or greater after 45 minutes. A liquid-liquid extraction technique using methylene chloride and BSTFA + 1%TMCS derivatizing agent was determined for detecting low concentrations of IBF, KTF, and NAP with calibration curves showing good linearity with all R2 values greater than 0.9880.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Civil & Environmental Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





Ibuprofen, Ketoprofen, Naproxen, Gas Chromatography, Derivatization