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Water Res. 2003 Nov;37(19):4645-56.

Evolution of antibiotic occurrence in a river through pristine, urban and agricultural landscapes.

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Department of Civil Engineering, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1372, USA.


A river along the semi-arid Front Range of Colorado was monitored for antibiotics including five tetracycline and six sulfonamide compounds. Existing analytical methods were adapted to measure these compounds in a surface water matrix at environmentally relevant concentrations (0.05 microg/L). Natural organic matter present in surface waters was confirmed to significantly impact the low-level analysis of tetracyclines (TCs) necessitating the use of standard addition quantification techniques. Five sites along the Cache la Poudre River were monitored for antibiotics encompassing pristine areas without anthropogenic influence, urban areas impacted by wastewater discharges and agricultural areas susceptible to non-point source contaminant runoff. The only site at which no antibiotics were detected was the pristine site in the mountains before the river had encountered urban or agricultural landscapes. By the time the river had exited the urban area, 6 of the 11 antibiotic compounds that were monitored were found in the samples. At Site 5, which had both urban and agricultural influences all five of the TCs monitored were detected indicating both urban and agricultural influences. The concentration of TCs at Site 5 ranged from 0.08 to 0.30 microg/L.

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