Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Environmental Studies Program


William McDowell

Second Advisor

Gail Carlson

Third Advisor

Philip Nyhus


Pharmaceuticals and active ingredients from personal care products (PPCPs) include prescription and over-the-counter drugs, sunscreen, fragrances, and soaps. Recently researchers have detected PPCPs in surface waters, posing a threat to aquatic biota and human health. These compounds can enter the environment through dumping, direct excretion, or sewage effluent streams. We tested 14 water samples from East Pond, Great Pond, and Long Pond in Maine for the presence of 23 different PPCPs. Of those, we only detected significant levels of caffeine, 1,7-dimethylxanthine, and amphetamine all below 1µg/L. There were no significant differences between any of the three lakes for any of the compounds. The levels of these three compounds were relatively similar to more urban lakes, but the prevalence of discrete PPCPs was much lower, indicating low overall PPCP pollution. Additionally, there was higher concentration of PPCPs detected at public boat launches opposed to private residences. Due to our small sample size and the timing of our sampling, further research should be directed towards gaining more samples around the lake to gain a more holistic picture of PPCPs in the Belgrade watershed, particularly during summer months when seasonal population increases could increase the abundance and types of PPCPs present within the lakes. Additionally, detailed land use patterns of the region and an assessment of PPCP concentrations in freshwater mussels could reveal important PPCP consumption patterns and temporal trends around the watershed.


Belgrade Lakes, Water Quality, Septic Systems, Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products, Human Health