Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Agriculture; Engineering


Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Tiffany Messer


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and neonicotinoid insecticides are two classes of emerging contaminants that have been recently detected in many environmental compartments. Both have been associated with negative impacts on humans and the environment. Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) have been identified as likely hotspots for introduction of these contaminants into the environment. Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate the occurrence of PFAS and neonicotinoids in two WWTPs in Central Kentucky. Polar organic chemical integrative samplers (POCIS) were deployed in WWTP influent and effluent and placed upstream and downstream of the effluent mixing zone (EMZ) for two weeks in April and July 2022. Analytes were analyzed using an AcquityTM ultrahigh pressure liquid chromatography (UPLC). Analyte concentrations typically increased from influent to effluent at both WWTPs, but changes from upstream to downstream of the EMZ varied by analyte. WWTP1, located in a heavily developed area, had significantly higher concentrations of most contaminants and was less impacted by seasonal change compared to WWTP2, located in a moderately developed, pastured area. Both WWTPs discharged PFAS and neonicotinoids at higher loads than they received, with the exception of WWTP1 in April, which significantly reduced neonicotinoid metabolite concentrations from influent to effluent.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

The work done in this research study was supported by the United States Geological Survey in full by the USGS 104(b) grant (no. 1816073) for the 2021-2022 school year and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health/Center for Disease Control Grant 5T42OH010278.