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Determination of pharmaceutical residues and assessment of their removal efficiency at the Daugavgriva municipal wastewater treatment plant in Riga, Latvia

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Pharmaceutical products (PPs) belong to emerging contaminants that may accumulate along with other chemical pollutants in wastewaters (WWs) entering industrial and/or urban wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). In the present study, the technique of ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography coupled to Orbitrap high-resolution mass spectrometry (Orbitrap-HRMS) was applied for the analysis of 24 multi-class PPs in WW samples collected at different technological stages of Daugavgriva WWTP located in Riga, Latvia. Caffeine and acetaminophen levels in the range of 7,570–11,403 ng/L and 810–1,883 ng/L, respectively, were the predominant compounds among 19 PPs determined in the WW. The results indicate that aerobic digestion in biological ponds was insufficiently effective to degrade most of the PPs (reduction efficiency <0–50.0%) with the exception of four PPs that showed degradation efficiency varying from 55.0 to 99.9%. Tests of short-term chemical and enzymatic hydrolysis for PP degradation in WW samples were performed, and the results reflected the complexity of different degradation mechanisms and physicochemical transformations of PPs. The toxicological studies of WW impact on Daphnia magna indicated gradual reduction of the total toxicity through the treatment stages at the WWTP.

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