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Sci Total Environ. 2016 Oct 15;568:164-170. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.05.216. Epub 2016 Jun 10.

Measuring selected PPCPs in wastewater to estimate the population in different cities in China.

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The University of Queensland, National Research Center for Environmental Toxicology, Brisbane, QLD 4108, Australia.
College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, 100871 Beijing, China.
Eawag, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, CH 8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland.
The University of Queensland, National Research Center for Environmental Toxicology, Brisbane, QLD 4108, Australia; International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD 4001, Australia. Electronic address:


Sampling and analysis of wastewater from municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) has become a useful tool for understanding exposure to chemicals. Both wastewater based studies and management and planning of the catchment require information on catchment population in the time of monitoring. Recently, a model has been developed and calibrated using selected pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs) measured in influent wastewater for estimating population in different catchments in Australia. The present study aimed at evaluating the feasibility of utilizing this population estimation approach in China. Twenty-four hour composite influent samples were collected from 31 WWTPs in 17 cities with catchment sizes from 200,000-3,450,000 people representing all seven regions of China. The samples were analyzed for 19 PPCPs using liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry in direct injection mode. Eight chemicals were detected in more than 50% of the samples. Significant positive correlations were found between individual PPCP mass loads and population estimates provided by WWTP operators. Using the PPCP mass load modeling approach calibrated with WWTP operator data, we estimated the population size of each catchment with good agreement with WWTP operator values (between 50-200% for all sites and 75-125% for 23 of the 31 sites). Overall, despite much lower detection and relatively high heterogeneity in PPCP consumption across China the model provided a good estimate of the population contributing to a given wastewater sample. Wastewater analysis could also provide objective PPCP consumption status in China.


LC-MS/MS; PPCP consumption; Population estimation; Wastewater treatment plant

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