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Fate of Pharmaceuticals and Their Transformation Products in Four Small European Rivers Receiving Treated Wastewater

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journal contribution
posted on 06.05.2016, 00:00 by Zhe Li, Anna Sobek, Michael Radke
A considerable knowledge gap exists with respect to the fate and environmental relevance of transformation products (TPs) of polar organic micropollutants in surface water. To narrow this gap we investigated the fate of 20 parent compounds (PCs) and 11 characteristic TPs in four wastewater-impacted rivers. Samples were obtained from time-integrated active sampling as well as passive sampling using polar organic chemical integrative samplers (POCIS). Seventeen out of the 20 PCs were detected in at least one of the rivers. All the PCs except acesulfame, carbamazepine, and fluconazole were attenuated along the studied river stretches, with the largest decrease found in the smallest river which had an intense surface water-pore water exchange. Seven TPs were detected, all of which were already present directly downstream of the WWTP outfall, suggesting that the WWTPs were a major source of TPs to the recipients. For anionic compounds, attenuation was the highest in the two rivers with the lowest discharge, while the pattern was not as clear for neutral or cationic compounds. For most compounds the results obtained from active sampling were not significantly different from those using POCIS, demonstrating that the cost and labor efficient POCIS is suitable to determine the attenuation of organic micropollutants in rivers.