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Evidence and Recommendations to Support the Use of a Novel Passive Water Sampler to Quantify Antibiotics in Wastewaters

Chen, Chang-Er, Zhang, Hao, Ying, Guang-Guo, Jones, Kevin C.
Environmental Science & Technology 2013 v.47 no.23 pp. 13587-13593
antibiotics, biofouling, diffusivity, fluoroquinolones, ionophores, macrolides, monitoring, risk, samplers, sulfapyridine, surface area, wastewater, wastewater treatment, United Kingdom
A novel passive water sampler (diffusive gradients in thin-films for organics, o-DGT) was previously developed and successfully tested in the laboratory, but has not yet been validated in the field. Here, o-DGT samplers were deployed in the influent and effluent of a typical UK wastewater treatment plant (WWTP); the influent was also sampled with a conventional automatic sampler (Auto) and by grab (Grab) sampling. All the samples were analyzed by LC-MS/MS for 40 target antibiotics (including 16 sulfonamides (SAs), 12 fluoroquinolones, 6 macrolides, 2 ionophores, 2 diaminopyimidines, 1 aminocoumarin, and 1 lincosamide). The diffusion coefficients (D) of these antibiotics in o-DGT, measured in the laboratory, ranged from 0.58 × 10–⁰⁶ to 6.24 × 10–⁰⁶ cm² s–¹. The derived surface area normalized sampling rates (RS/A, 0.54–5.74 mL d–¹ cm–²) were comparable with those for another passive sampler called POCIS. Fourteen antibiotics were detected in the actively sampled water samples, with 10 of the 14 detected in o-DGT devices deployed for more than 7 days. Most of the antibiotics detected in o-DGT, except sulfapyridine, were continually accumulated by o-DGT for ∼10 days. Deployment for 7 days is recommended to integrate ambient concentrations over time, without risks of reaching capacity and significant biofouling. Diffusive boundary layer (DBL) thickness had less effect on the o-DGT measurement than reported for other passive samplers. The comparison between o-DGT and Auto and Grab samplings showed that o-DGT was more efficient in terms of cost, time, and labor. This study demonstrates for the first time in a real environment that o-DGT is an effective tool for the routine monitoring of antibiotics in wastewaters and provides a powerful approach to studying their occurrence, fate, and behavior in the environment.