Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Type

Non-Thesis Project

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Interdisciplinary Studies

Committee Chair

Katie Hailer

First Advisor

Gary Icopini

Second Advisor

Beverly Hartline


As human dependence on pharmaceuticals and household products containing a broad variety of organic compounds increases, so does the discharge of residual components of these compounds into surface and groundwaters. Organic wastewater chemicals (OWCs) result when human or animal discharge appears in the environment through a variety of waste disposal mechanisms. Historically environmental standards for organic wastewater chemicals have not been a concern when compared to biological hazards, metal contamination, acid/base hazards and radioactive hazards. At present, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not have standards for organic wastewater chemicals for surface waters; it is imperative that research be conducted regionally and locally so that national standards can be established to address new environmental hazards as organics become more applicable to everyday use.

Organic wastewater chemicals represent an expansive range of compounds that includes hormones, pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals and biocides. At low concentrations these chemicals have been linked to a variety of physiological problems, including breast and testicular cancers. This project sampled for organic wastewater chemicals in five field sites along Silver Bow Creek in year 2014 and year 2015. These sites span from Silver Bow Creek in the city of Butte, Montana to the wastewater treatment plant, and 3 sites downstream of the plant, to the Warm Springs Ponds Operable Unit in Warms Springs, Montana. This project is part of a narrow study to determine the presence and quantity of three organic wastewater chemicals. The compounds of interest are 17-α-ethynyl estradiol, 17-β-estradiol, and N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET). The waters were extracted and analyzed based on methodology developed by the U.S Geological Survey (USGS).

The study found DEET present at all 5 sites for both years, and the estradiol compounds were present in 45% of total sites tested. Concentrations of the compounds discovered in the samples were determined by their peak area and the calibration curves constructed by compound standards performed prior to sample analysis. These results may lead to further investigations of organic waste in area surface waters and influence future waste water treatment considerations for the city of Butte.


A Report submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science Geoscience Option in Geochemistry

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