Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Civil and Environmental Engineering


Teng Zeng

Second Advisor

Christa A. Kelleher


Organic micropollutants (OMPs) are synthetic and naturally occurring organic compounds that may pose long-term ecotoxicological risks to the aquatic life occur at low levels. This work seeks to characterize the spatiotemporal occurrence and mass flows of OMPs in the Onondaga Lake-Three Rivers system in central New York. In collaboration with the Upstate Freshwater Institute, multiple batches of water samples were collected from the lake-river system between June and October 2017 and analyzed for OMPs using a suspect screening workflow developed on liquid chromatography-high resolution mass spectrometry. To date, a total of 52, 31, and 37 OMPs were identified and quantified in Onondaga Lake, its four major tributaries, and the Three Rivers, respectively. Lamotrigine, estradiol, benzotriazole, methyl benzotriazole, sucralose, and atrazine were measured in every sample, suggesting their ubiquitous presence in the lake-river system. Over the study period, the horizontal concentration profiles of OMPs in Onondaga Lake showed relatively consistent patterns, but the vertical distribution of OMPs in the lake was influenced by thermal stratification and wastewater discharge from a regional WWTP serving the Syracuse metropolitan area. Specifically, OMPs derived from point source wastewater discharge exhibited peak concentrations in the thermocline in July 2017, but such phenomenon disappeared in October 2017, likely due to changes in lake stratification. OMPs were generally detected at lower levels in the lake tributaries and the Three Rivers, suggesting diffuse inputs from agricultural activities or irregular wastewater discharge. Further calculations of the OMP mass flow revealed that the WWTP might account for up to 67-86% of the OMP mass flow entering the lake, which is in line with its high percentage of wastewater inflow. Onondaga Lake itself contributed 12-24% of the OMP mass flow entering the Three Rivers, confirming its role as a regionally important source of OMPs.


Open Access



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