John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Linking drugs of abuse in wastewater to contamination of surface and drinking water

The concentrations of 17 drugs of abuse, including cocaine, several amphetamines, opioid drugs, and 2 metabolites—benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine, and 2‐ethylidene‐1,5‐dimethyl‐3,3‐diphenylpyrolidine, a metabolite of methadone—were investigated in an urban watershed that is heavily impacted by discharges of municipal wastewater. The artificial sweetener sucralose was also monitored as a persistent tracer of contamination from municipal wastewater. Monitoring was conducted in a municipal wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) and at sites upstream and downstream of the WWTP discharge, as well as in a drinking water treatment plant (DWTP) located 19 km downstream of the WWTP discharge that withdraws raw water from the river. Drug concentrations were monitored with polar organic chemical integrative samplers deployed for 2 wk in the river and in the WWTP and DWTP. Several of the investigated compounds exhibited a decrease in concentration with distance downstream from the wastewater discharge into the river, but there was little attenuation of sucralose, cocaine, benzoylecgonine, morphine, acetylmorphine, acetylcodeine, and oxycodone. Heroin and methadone were not detected at any sample locations. Amphetamine, methamphetamine, 3,4‐methylenedioxy‐methamphetamine, and 2‐ethylidene‐1,5‐dimethyl‐3,3‐diphenylpyrolidine were not detected in the samples collected at the drinking water intake. Many of the drugs of abuse were not removed effectively in the DWTP, including cocaine, benzoylecgonine, methylenedioxyamphetamine, ephedrine, and several prescription opioids, most probably because the DWTP was operating at or above its rated treatment capacity. These data indicate that there can be transport of drugs of abuse from wastewater sources into drinking water in urban watersheds. Environ Toxicol Chem 2015;9999:1–7. © 2015 SETAC

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