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Occurrence and distribution pattern of acidic pharmaceuticals in surface water, wastewater and sediment of the Msunduzi River, Kwazulu‐Natal, South Africa

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The paucity of information on the occurrence of pharmaceuticals in the environment in African countries has led us to investigate eight acidic pharmaceuticals (four antipyretics, three antibiotics and one lipid regulator) in wastewater, surface water and sediments from the Msunduzi River in the province of KwaZulu‐Natal, South Africa, using solid phase extraction (SPE) and liquid chromatography‐mass spectrometry (LC‐MS). The method recoveries, limits of detection (LOD) and limits of quantification (LOQ) were determined. The method recoveries were 58.4–103% while the LODs ranged between 1.16‐29.1 ng/L for water and 0.58‐14.5 ng/g for sediment. The drugs were all present in wastewater and in most of the surface water and sediment samples. Aspirin was the most abundant pharmaceutical observed, 118 ± 0.82 µg/L in wastewater influent, while the most observed antibiotic was Nalidixic acid (25.2‐29.9µg/L in wastewater) and bezafibrate was the least observed. The distribution pattern of the antipyretic in water indicates more impact in the sub‐urban sites. The solid‐liquid partitioning of the pharmaceuticals between sediment and water measured as log Kd gave an average accumulation magnitude of 10–32 times in sediments than in water. The downstream distribution patterns for both water and sediment indicate discharge contributions from wastewater, agricultural activities, domestic waste disposal and possible septic tank leakages. Though concentrations of the pharmaceuticals were comparable with those obtained from some other countries, the contamination of this study site with pharmaceuticals has been over a period of time and is continued till present which makes effective management and control necessary. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved

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