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Occurrence, removal and seasonal variation of pharmaceuticals in Brasilian drinking water treatment plants

Reis, Eduarda O., Foureaux, Ana Flávia S., Rodrigues, Júlia S., Moreira, Victor R., Lebron, Yuri A.R., Santos, Lucilaine V.S., Amaral, Miriam C.S., Lange, Liséte C.
Environmental pollution 2019 v.250 pp. 773-781
aquatic environment, atorvastatin, betamethasone, cities, drinking water, drinking water treatment, fluconazole, high performance liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry, monitoring, prednisone, public health, risk, seasonal variation, sewage, solid phase extraction, surface water, therapeutics, wastewater treatment, water quality, winter, Brazil
The presence of pharmaceuticals in aquatic environments has become a major issue of concern for scientific community, since there is a lack of information about risks and impacts to the environment and public health. In the context of Brazil, many cities do not have Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTPs) and domestic sewage is dumped directly into the water bodies, aggravating the problem. Thus, the present study aimed to evaluate the presence of 28 prescribed pharmaceuticals from different therapeutic classes in six full-scale Drinking Water Treatment Plants (DWTPs) in Minas Gerais state. Samples were collected in twelve field campaigns from August 2016 to August 2017 and water quality were monitored. Analytical methodology was based on solid phase extraction (C18 cartridge) followed by High Performance Liquid Chromatography (Prominence DGU/20A3 – Shimadzu) coupled to Mass Spectrometry (micrOTOF-QII – Bruker). Considering the 28 pharmaceuticals analyzed, 18 were detected in the surface water source at concentrations ranging from Method Quantification Limit (MQL) to 11,960 ng/L. In drinking water, the concentration of the 11 pharmaceuticals detected ranged from <MQL to 6323 ng/L. Betamethasone, Fluconazole, Atorvastatin and Prednisone were the most detected pharmaceuticals. The drinking water monitoring showed a decrease in the concentration of all detected pharmaceuticals, indicating some removal of these compounds by the water treatment processes. The removal efficiency assessed shows a great variation among different compounds, DWTPs and over the year, ranging from an average of 32% ± 6% (Prednisone –DWTP3) to 100% ± 0% for some pharmaceuticals. The highest total concentrations and the maximum concentration values for the most frequently detected pharmaceuticals were related to the winter due, presumably, to lower dilution and temperature.Trace levels of pharmaceuticals were detected in surface and drinking water in Brazil and conventional DWTPs were not able to remove the pharmaceuticals completely.