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Keywords:

  • pharmaceuticals and personal care products;
  • primidone;
  • carbamazepine;
  • caffeine;
  • disinfection byproducts;
  • N-nitrosodimethylamine;
  • formation potential;
  • wastewater indicators;
  • drinking water;
  • wastewater impact

Abstract:  Wastewater impact on drinking water sources was assessed using several approaches, including analysis of three pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) – primidone, carbamazepine, and caffeine – as indicators, and determination of precursor concentrations for the disinfection byproduct N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) using formation potential (FP) tests. Samples were collected in 2006 and 2007 in rivers impacted by wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) discharges, at drinking water treatment plant (DWTP) intakes upstream or downstream from these discharges, and from two WWTP effluents in two watersheds. The levels [10th percentile − maximum (median)] of primidone, carbamazepine, caffeine, and NDMAFP were 2-95 (7) ng/l, 2-207 (18) ng/l, 7-687 (78) ng/l, and 12-321 (35) ng/l, respectively. The highest concentrations of primidone, carbamazepine, and NDMA precursors were from one of the WWTP effluents, whereas the highest concentration of caffeine was detected in a river heavily impacted by treated wastewater discharges. The lowest concentrations of the three PPCPs were from a DWTP influent upstream of a metropolitan urban area with minimum wastewater impact. Temporal variations in PPCP and NDMAFP concentrations and streamflows in two selected watersheds were also observed. Furthermore, correlation analysis between caffeine or carbamazepine and primidone was evaluated. The results show that measurement of the two pharmaceuticals and NDMAFP tests can be used to evaluate wastewater impact in different watersheds, whereas caffeine results were more variable.