Sediment-water interactions of pharmaceutical residues in the river environment

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Journal Article
Water Research, 2014, 48 (1), pp. 61 - 70
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To assess the environmental fate and risks of pharmaceuticals, the determination of their distributions between sediment and water is crucial as a controlling process. In this paper, the concentrations of 9 selected pharmaceuticals were determined in water and sediment samples from the River Medway, Kent, UK between December 2009 and December 2010. In the water phase, there was a spatial variation of concentration with the highest concentrations being detected in the sewage outfall, indicating it being an important point source in the river. In terms of seasonal variations, the highest concentrations (13-878ngL-1) were detected in June 2010. In the surface sediment phase, the highest concentrations (5.3-33.6ngg-1 dry weight) were observed at the sewage outfall, although in February 2010 the highest concentrations were detected downstream of the sewage outfall indicating a delayed response in sediment accumulation of pharmaceuticals in relation to the water phase. The partition coefficient of pharmaceuticals between surface sediment and water was variable, reflecting a dynamic process of sediment-water interaction and the varying nature of sediments. Overall the partition coefficient was shown to decrease with an increase in suspended sediment concentration. The organic carbon normalized partition coefficient of the pharmaceuticals was shown to be positively related to their molecular weight (MW), suggesting that sediment-water interactions were partly a partition process favoring large molecules. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
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