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Nationwide reconnaissance of contaminants of emerging concern in source and treated drinking waters of the United States: Pharmaceuticals.


ABSTRACT: Mobile and persistent chemicals that are present in urban wastewater, such as pharmaceuticals, may survive on-site or municipal wastewater treatment and post-discharge environmental processes. These pharmaceuticals have the potential to reach surface and groundwaters, essential drinking-water sources. A joint, two-phase U.S. Geological Survey-U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study examined source and treated waters from 25 drinking-water treatment plants from across the United States. Treatment plants that had probable wastewater inputs to their source waters were selected to assess the prevalence of pharmaceuticals in such source waters, and to identify which pharmaceuticals persist through drinking-water treatment. All samples were analyzed for 24 pharmaceuticals in Phase I and for 118 in Phase II. In Phase I, 11 pharmaceuticals were detected in all source-water samples, with a maximum of nine pharmaceuticals detected in any one sample. The median number of pharmaceuticals for all 25 samples was five. Quantifiable pharmaceutical detections were fewer, with a maximum of five pharmaceuticals in any one sample and a median for all samples of two. In Phase II, 47 different pharmaceuticals were detected in all source-water samples, with a maximum of 41 pharmaceuticals detected in any one sample. The median number of pharmaceuticals for all 25 samples was eight. For 37 quantifiable pharmaceuticals in Phase II, median concentrations in source water were below 113ng/L. For both Phase I and Phase II campaigns, substantially fewer pharmaceuticals were detected in treated water samples than in corresponding source-water samples. Seven different pharmaceuticals were detected in all Phase I treated water samples, with a maximum of four detections in any one sample and a median of two pharmaceuticals for all samples. In Phase II a total of 26 different pharmaceuticals were detected in all treated water samples, with a maximum of 20 pharmaceuticals detected in any one sample and a median of 2 pharmaceuticals detected for all 25 samples. Source-water type influences the presence of pharmaceuticals in source and treated water. Treatment processes appear effective in reducing concentrations of most pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceuticals more consistently persisting through treatment include carbamazepine, bupropion, cotinine, metoprolol, and lithium. Pharmaceutical concentrations and compositions from this study provide an important base data set for further sublethal, long-term exposure assessments, and for understanding potential effects of these and other contaminants of emerging concern upon human and ecosystem health.

SUBMITTER: Furlong ET 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC7017633 | BioStudies | 2017-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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