Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

Robert Sabo, Mount St. Mary's University

Class Year: 

Project Title: 

Polyfluorinated Compounds in Municipal Wastewater Effluents and Surface Waters Discharging into the Chesapeake Bay


This preliminary report is part of a broader study of polyfluorinated compounds (PFC) contamination in surface water that is incorporating a statewide survey of wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluents and three distinct watersheds (rural, urban, and suburban) to assess the contribution of PFCs from point and non-point sources. In this paper, we report that rural watersheds may contribute significant loads of various PFC species further downstream. St. Mary's Run in Central Maryland, a rural stream that receives a large proportion of its volume from an associated small wastewater treatment plant, displayed a total PFC concentration of 9.95 ng/ml. In comparison, a much larger WWTP in urban areas in Washington DC and Maryland, which serves a population of over one million displayed similar concentrations at 11.2 ng/ml for total PFCs. Although our sample analysis methods are still being refined and improved, the preliminary data indicates that rural watersheds may contribute more significantly to the PFC load then once previously acknowledged, especially when rural watersheds are viewed as a collective whole as in the case of the state of Maryland.