IWA Publishing

Evaluation of xenobiotic impact on urban receiving waters by means of statistical methods


Xenobiotics in urban receiving waters are an emerging problem. A sound knowledge of xenobiotic input, distribution and fate in the aquatic environment is a prerequisite for risk assessments. Methods to assess the impact of xenobiotics on urban receiving waters should address the diverse characteristics of the target compounds and the spatiotemporal variability of concentrations. Here, we present results from a one-year-monitoring program concerning concentrations of pharmaceuticals, additives from personal care products and industrial chemicals in an urban drainage catchment in untreated and treated wastewater, surface water and groundwater. Univariate and multivariate statistical methods were applied to characterize the xenobiotic concentrations. Correlation and principal component analysis revealed a pronounced pattern of xenobiotics in the surface water samples. The concentrations of several xenobiotics were characterized by a negative proportionality to the water temperature. Therefore, seasonal attenuation is assumed to be a major process influencing the measured concentrations. Moreover, dilution of xenobiotics the surface water was found to significantly influence the concentrations. These two processes control more the xenobiotic occurrence in the surface water than the less pronounced concentration pattern in the wastewater sources. For the groundwater samples, we assume that foremost attenuation processes lead to the found differentiation of xenobiotics.

Keywords: attenuation, correlation analysis, PPCPs, principal component analysis, urban hydrogeology

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