Antibiotics, such as sulfonamides (SAs), have recently raised concern as wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) partly remove them, and thus, SAs continuously enter the aquifers. In this context, the aims of this work are to (1) investigate the temporal evolution of SAs and metabolites in an urban aquifer recharged by a polluted river; (2) identify the potential geochemical processes that might affect SAs in the river-groundwater interface and (3) evaluate the ecological and human health risk assessment of SAs. To this end, 14 SAs and 4 metabolites were analyzed in river and urban groundwater from the metropolitan area of Barcelona (NE, Spain) in three different sampling campaigns. These substances had a distinct behavior when river water, which is the main recharge source, infiltrates the aquifer. Mixing of the river water recharge into the aquifer drives several redox reactions such as aerobic respiration and denitrification. This reducing character of the aquifer seemed to favor the natural attenuation of some SAs as sulfamethoxazole, sulfapyridine, and sulfamethizole. However, most of the SAs detected were not likely to undergo degradation and adsorption because their concentrations were constant along groundwater flow path. In fact, the intensity of SAs adsorption is low as the retardation factors are close to 1 at average groundwater pH of 7.2 for most SAs.
Finally, risk quotients (RQs) are used to evaluate the ecological and human health risks posed by single and mixture of SAs in river water and groundwater, respectively. Life-stage RQs of the SAs detected in groundwater for the 8 age intervals were low, indicating that SAs and their mixture do not pose any risk to human beings. Concerning the environmental risk assessment, SAs do not pose any risk for algae, fish and crustaceans as the RQs evaluated are further lower than 0.1.
|Jurado, A., Margareto, A., Pujades, E., Vázquez-Suñé, E., Diaz-Cruz, M.S. (2020):
Fate and risk assessment of sulfonamides and metabolites in urban groundwater
Environ. Pollut. 267 , art. 115480