Implications of “Mineral Aging” in the Presence of PPCP

Implications of “Mineral Aging” in the Presence of Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products

Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) are, in general, any product used by individuals for personal health or cosmetic reasons or used by agribusiness to enhance growth or health of livestock. PPCPs include a diverse collection of thousands of chemical substances, including prescription and over-the-counter therapeutic drugs, veterinary drugs, fragrances, lotions, and cosmetics which are added to the environment via medication residues pass out of the body and into sewer lines, externally-applied drugs and personal care products they use wash down the shower drain, and unused or expired medications placed in the trash.

In addition to antibiotics and steroids, over 100 individual PPCPs have been identified in environmental samples and drinking water. US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has highlighted the significance of these sources and the need of more research to determine the extent of ecological harm and any potential role it may have on aquatic life and human health. In particular, this is due to the growing number of PPCPs with the growing economy and human needs.

Major groups of organics found in PPCPs are carboxylic acids, aldehydes (e.g. formaldehyde), amides, phthalates, and carbines. Although numerous studies have investigated potential health effects of these toxic ingredients, only few have focused on environmental processing of minerals – “aging of minerals”.  Research in our lab is focused on molecular level insights of these complex environmental process to better understand the chemistry and photochemistry of abundant minerals (metal oxides, carbonates, and clays), especially in nano scale, in the presences of PPCPs and their potential impacts on aquatic life.