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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Occurrence and mass flows of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) in Sweden's three largest lakes and associated rivers

Malnes, Daniel; Ahrens, Lutz; Kohler, Stephan; Forsberg, Malin; Golovko, Oksana


Contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) are a concern in aquatic environments due to possible adverse effects on the environment and humans. This study assessed the occurrence and mass flows of CECs in Sweden's three largest lakes and 24 associated rivers. The occurrence and distribution of 105 CECs was investigated, comprising 71 pharmaceuticals, 13 perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), eight industrial chemicals, four personal care products (PCPs), three parabens, two pesticides, and four other CECs (mostly anthropogenic markers). This is the first systematic study of CECs in Sweden's main lakes and one of the first to report environmental concentrations of the industrial chemicals tributyl citrate acetate and 2,2 '-dimorpholinyldiethyl-ether. The Sigma CEC concentration was generally higher in river water (31-5200 ng/L; median 440 ng/L) than in lake water (36-900 ng/L; median 190 ng/L). At urban lake sites, seasonal variations were observed for PCPs and parabens, and also for antihistamines, antidiabetics, antineoplastic agents, antibiotics, and fungicides. The median mass CEC load in river water was 180 g/day (range 4.0-4300 g/day), with a total mass load of 5000 g/day to Lake Vanern, 510 g/day to Lake Vattern, and 5600 g/day to Lake Malaren. All three lakes are used as drinking water reservoirs, so further investigations of the impact of CECs on the ecosystem and human health are needed.


Organic micropollutants; PFASs; Pharmaceuticals; Surface water; UPLC-MS/MS

Published in

2022, Volume: 294, article number: 133825