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J Environ Monit. 2011 Apr;13(4):871-8. doi: 10.1039/c0em00602e. Epub 2011 Mar 22.

Occurrence and behavior of pharmaceuticals, steroid hormones, and endocrine-disrupting personal care products in wastewater and the recipient river water of the Pearl River Delta, South China.

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State key Laboratory of Organic Geochemistry, Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 510640 Guangzhou, China.


The occurrence and behavior of β-blockers, antiepileptic drug carbamazepine and its metabolites, X-ray contrast agent iopromide, natural and synthetic hormones, and several groups of hormone-like personal care products (PCPs), including antiseptics (triclocarban, triclosan, and 2-phenylphenol), parabens and bisphenol A, were investigated in municipal wastewater, sewage sludge, and urban river water of the Pearl River Delta, South China. The pharmaceuticals, natural hormones and PCPs were ubiquitously detected in the raw wastewater from a sewage treatment plant (STP). Only triclocarban and triclosan were detected at significant amounts in the dewatered sludge. Iopromide and the PCPs were greatly removed/transformed from the aqueous phase of the wastewater. The β-blockers were only moderately removed/transformed. Carbamazepine passed through the STP almost unchanged. Biodegradation was the dominant process for elimination/transformation of the pharmaceuticals, hormones, and most PCPs in the STP. However, sorption also played an important role in the fate of triclocarban with nearly 50% of the mass load entering the STP ended up and persisted in the dewatered sludge. The pharmaceuticals, estrone, and PCPs were also widely detected in the Pearl River at Guangzhou. Bisphenol A had the highest concentration. The pharmaceutical concentrations in the Pearl River were higher in March than in May, most likely due to less dilution by lower precipitation. The omnipresence and high levels of the pharmaceuticals and PCPs in the Pearl River may be associated with direct discharge of untreated wastewater and pose potential risks to the ecological system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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