Farmers in drought areas are especially concerned by this question. As fresh water resources become scarce, one option for water-conscious farmers is to water crops with treated wastewater. This effluent is becoming a more popular option for applications that don’t require drinking-quality water. However, there are still questions about how the effluent interacts with and affects the rest of the ecosystem.
This is where Alison Franklin and her team at Pennsylvania State University come in. Franklin is investigating what happens to certain compounds that remain in the effluent after treatment. She wants to know, “Where do these compounds go?”
The chemicals that Franklin studies are pharmaceutical and personal care products, including antibiotics. Currently, wastewater treatment facilities are not able to completely remove these compounds. They frequently remain in the effluent in an active form.
Franklin explains, “As I learned about pharmaceutical and personal care products in the environment, I became very interested in where these compounds were ending up. What were the possible implications of these low level compounds in the environment on human, animal, and ecological health?”