Committee Chair

Richards, Sean M.

Committee Member

Schorr, Mark; Symes, Steven


Dept. of Biology, Geology, and Environmental Science


College of Arts and Sciences


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


Tennessee currently has the 3rd highest per capita prescription drug usage rate in the United States, yet no published studies have analyzed Tennessee surface waters for the presence of pharmaceuticals. Composite surface samples were collected upstream and downstream of sewage treatment plants and at the inflow of major tributaries to the Tennessee River to determine the presence and potential sources of pharmaceuticals. Subsurface samples were collected at 7 meters depth to determine differences in occurrence and potential natural degradation. All samples were collected once during each of the four seasons (winter, spring, summer, and fall) to determine yearly variations. Aliquots of each sample were analyzed for pharmaceutical concentrations and chitobiase activity. Chitobiase is an enzyme expressed by developing aquatic invertebrates and may be used as a bioindicator of aquatic invertebrate population health. These two measurements were compared to determine if either total or single pharmaceuticals correlate with chitobiase concentrations. The method for the simultaneous quantification of 14 pharmaceuticals in aquatic matrices was developed utilizing solid phase extraction and ultra-performance liquid chromatography (UPLC) interfaced with an electrospray ionization, tandem mass spectrometer (MS/MS). This method yielded reproducible quantitation at the low parts per trillion (ng/L) level for all 14 analytes (acetaminophen, caffeine, carbamazepine, sulfamethoxazole, trimethoprim, ranitidine, ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, sertraline, fluoxetine, norfluoxetine, diltiazem, lovastatin, and atorvastatin). The simultaneous method pre-concentrated analytes by a factor of 1000 with percent recoveries ranging from 44% to 104% and RSDs below 16%. Percent recoveries were moderately variable due to the broad range of both the polarities and acid-base properties of the target compounds. The end goal of these analyses was to produce a rapid, reliable quantitation of surface water pharmaceutical concentrations and to determine if they pose a potential hazard to aquatic invertebrate populations based on chitobiase activity.


I would like to thank Scott Kindelberger for his assistance with the lab work associated with this project. I would like to thank Ryan Miller for helping create the map of the sampling area. I would like to thank those who helped with the development of the analytical method: Kevin Chambliss (Baylor University), Chris Metcalfe (Trent University), and Cora Young (University of Toronto). I would like to thank Dr. Mark Hanson (University of Manitoba) and Sheena Kelly for assisting with the chitobiase analysis. I would like to thank the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga for providing support during my time as a student. I would also like to thank Dr. Steven Symes and Dr. Mark Schorr for serving on my committee and Dr. Sean Richards for serving as my mentor and committee chair. Funding was provided by the National Science Foundations, the UTC Graduate School, the UTC Biological and Environmental Sciences Department, and the UC Foundation. Finally, I would like to thank my parents, Steve and Jolinda Conley, for their endless support.


M. S.; A thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Science.




Drug pollution of water; Narcotics; Stream chemistry; Tennessee River


Environmental Monitoring

Document Type

Masters theses




xi, 81 leaves



Call Number

LB2369.2 .C664 2007