John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Selected pharmaceuticals entering an estuary: Concentrations, temporal trends, partitioning, and fluxes

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In many coastal watersheds and ecosystems, rivers discharging to estuaries receive waters from domestic wastewater treatment plants resulting in the release and distribution of pharmaceuticals to the marine environment. In the present study, 15 active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) were measured regularly over 1 year in the dissolved and particulate phases as they entered Narragansett Bay from the Pawtuxet River in Cranston, RI, USA. Of the APIs measured, 14 were consistently present in the dissolved phase, with concentrations ranging from below detection to > 310 ng/L, while 8 of the APIs were present in the particulate phase (0.2 ng/g to 18 ng/g). Partition coefficients (Kds and Kocs) were determined and organic carbon normalization reduced variability associated with Kds for the APIs evaluated. Flux estimates based on river flow were calculated for both dissolved and particulate phase APIs, with particulate fluxes being low (1 g/yr to 12 g/yr) while dissolved fluxes of APIs were 155 g/yr to 11,600 g/yr. Results indicate that the pharmaceuticals measured in the present study reside primarily in the dissolved phase and thus are likely bioavailable upon entering the estuarine waters of Narragansett Bay. This long‐term temporal study provides important information on seasonal and annual dynamics of pharmaceuticals in an urban estuarine watershed. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved

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