John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

World‐wide estimation of river concentrations of any chemical originating from sewage treatment plants using dilution factors

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Dilution factors (DFs) are a critical component in estimating concentrations of “down‐the‐drain” chemicals (e.g. pharmaceuticals) in rivers. The present study estimated the temporal and spatial variability of DFs around the world using geographically referenced datasets at 0.5° × 0.5° resolution. The domestic wastewater effluents were derived from national per capita domestic water use estimates and gridded population. Monthly and annual river flows were estimated by accumulating runoff estimates using topographically derived flow directions. National statistics, including the median, and the inter‐quartile range, were generated to quantify DFs. Spatial variability of the DF was found to be considerable: for example there are 4 orders of magnitude in annual median DF between Canada and Morocco. Temporal variability within a country can also be substantial: in India, there are up to 9 orders of magnitude between median monthly DFs. These national statistics provide a global picture of the temporal and spatial variability of DFs, and hence, of the potential exposure to “down‐the‐drain” chemicals. The present methodology has potential for a wide international community (including decision makers and pharmaceutical companies) to assess relative exposure to “down‐the‐drain” chemicals released by the human pollution in rivers and so target areas of potentially high risk. Environ Toxicol Chem © 2013 SETAC

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