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Research article2018Peer reviewedOpen access

Persistence, mobility and bioavailability of emerging organic contaminants discharged from sewage treatment plants

Blum, Kristin M.; Andersson, Patrik L.; Ahrens, Lutz; Wiberg, Karin; Haglund, Peter


Little is known about the impact of emissions of micropollutants from small and large-scale sewage treatment plants (STPs) on drinking water source areas. We investigated a populated catchment that drains into Lake Malaren, which is the drinking water source for around 2 million people including the inhabitants of Stockholm, Sweden. To assess the persistence, mobility, bioavailability and bioaccumulation of 32 structurally diverse emerging organic contaminants, sediment, integrated passive and grab water samples were collected along the catchment of the River Fyris, Sweden. The samples were complemented with STP effluent and fish samples from one sampling event. Contaminants identified as persistent, mobile, and bioavailable were 4,6,6,7,8,8-hexamethyl-1,3,4,7-tetrahydrocyclopenta[g] isochromene (galaxolide), 2,4,7,9-tetramethyl-5-decyn-4,7-diol, tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate, tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate, and tris(1-chloro-2-propyl) phosphate. Galaxolide and 2,4,7,9-tetramethyl-5-decyn-4,7-diol were additionally found to be bioaccumulative, whereas n-butylbenzenesulfonamide was found to be only persistent and mobile. The total median mass flux of the persistent and mobile target analytes from Lake Ekoln into the drinking water source area of Lake Malaren was estimated to be 27 kg per year. Additionally, 10 contaminants were tentatively identified by non-target screening using NIST library searches and manual review. Two of those were confirmed by reference standards and further two contaminants, propylene glycol and rose acetate, were discharged from STPs and travelled far from the source. Attenuation of mass fluxes was highest in the summer and autumn seasons, suggesting the importance of biological degradation and photodegradation for the persistence of the studied compounds. (C) 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V.


Mass fluxes; Fate; Sediment-water distribution; Bioaccumulation; Non-target screening; GC x GC-HRMS

Published in

Global Ecology and Conservation
2018, Volume: 612, pages: 1532-1542