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Environ Pollut. 2019 Aug;251:102-109. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2019.04.110. Epub 2019 Apr 25.

Occurrence, distribution, and potential risks of environmental corticosteroids in surface waters from the Pearl River Delta, South China.

Author information

1
Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Radionuclides Pollution Control and Resources, School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Guangzhou University, Guangzhou, 510006, China; Key Laboratory for Water Quality and Conservation of the Pearl River Delta, Ministry of Education, School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Guangzhou University, Guangzhou, 510006, China. Electronic address: gong_jian@mails.ucas.ac.cn.
2
Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Radionuclides Pollution Control and Resources, School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Guangzhou University, Guangzhou, 510006, China; Key Laboratory for Water Quality and Conservation of the Pearl River Delta, Ministry of Education, School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Guangzhou University, Guangzhou, 510006, China.
3
Key Laboratory for Water Quality and Conservation of the Pearl River Delta, Ministry of Education, School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Guangzhou University, Guangzhou, 510006, China.

Abstract

The occurrence, spatiotemporal distribution, and potential risks of 21 glucocorticoids (GCs) and 3 mineralocorticoids (MCs) in four rivers were studied by investigating the surface waters from the Pearl River Delta (PRD), South China. These environmental corticosteroids (ECs) were commonly present in the river surface waters with average concentrations varying from <0.17 ng/L for fluticasone propionate to 5.6 ng/L for clobetasone butyrate; and cortisone had the highest concentration, 32.9 ng/L. The total ECs ranged in concentration from undetectable to 83.3 ng/L, with a mean and median of 8.1 ng/L and 4.8 ng/L, respectively. Spatially the total EC concentration levels in the Pearl River system occurred in the following order: Zhujiang River (ZR) > Dongjiang River (DR) > Shiziyang waterway (SW) > Beijiang River (BR). These levels generally demonstrated a trend of increasing from upstream to midstream or downstream then attenuating toward the estuary. Considerable seasonal variations in the ECs differed among rivers. Higher ECs concentrations in winter were mostly found in the ZR, whereas lower levels were found in the DR. Moreover, the temporal variations of the ECs were marginal in the BR and SW. These spatiotemporal distributions of the ECs might have been simultaneously influenced by pollution sources derived from anthropogenic activities and river hydrologic conditions. Correlation analyses indicated that dissolved organic carbon (DOC) could play a key role in the occurrence and distribution of ECs in an aquatic environment. Risk assessment demonstrated that the occurrence of ECs might have posed medium to high risk to aquatic organisms in the Pearl River.

KEYWORDS:

Corticosteroid; Occurrence; Risk assessment; Spatiotemporal distribution; Surface water

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