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J Hazard Mater. 2009 Jul 30;166(2-3):655-61. doi: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2008.11.070. Epub 2008 Nov 28.

Pharmaceutical residues in wastewater treatment works effluents and their impact on receiving river water.

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Department of Biology and Environmental Science, School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9QG, UK.


Various pharmaceutical residues are being discharged from wastewater treatment works (WTW) effluents, the impact of which on river water quality is of high relevance to environmental risk assessment. The concentrations of eleven pharmaceutical compounds were determined in three WTWs in England, and the river Ouse receiving effluents from Scaynes Hill WTW. Results show that five compounds propranolol, sulfamethoxazole, carbamazepine, indomethacin and diclofenac were detected in all wastewater and river water samples, with carbamazepine showing the highest concentrations (up to 2336 ng L(-1)) in WTW influent. Different compounds were removed to different extent in the WTWs, varying from 43 to 92%, with the highest performance obtained by the WTW with tertiary treatment (sand filtration). The pharmaceutical residues from Scaynes Hill WTW were eventually discharged into the river Ouse, causing an elevation in their concentrations downstream of the outfall. This was confirmed by the good agreement between measured concentrations and those predicted by a simple dilution model.

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