//
you're reading...

Chemistry

Are coastal waters receiving drugs? Are the rivers distributing them?

Jiang, Jheng-Jie; Lee, Chon-Lin; and Fang, Meng-Der (2014) Emerging organic contaminants in coastal waters: Anthropogenic impact, environmental release and ecological risk.  Marine pollution bulletin, v. 85,  pp.  391-399, http://ds.doi.org/0.1016/j.marpolbul.2013.12.045

Background:

Emerging organics contaminants (EOCs) are organic compounds, often synthesized, that show up in an environment where they don’t belong. EOCs can be toxic to the aquatic environment with potential to alter the ecosystems and impact human health. Widespread and long term use and disposal of EOCs for medical, veterinary, agriculture, aquaculture, and recreational uses has led to drug residues being transported in sewage water, rivers, and ground water to the ocean.  Scientists in Taiwan measured concentrations and distributions of EOCs in coastal Taiwan, an area impacted by densely populated cites, intensive husbandry and aquaculture, river discharge, and discussed potential sources and the associated risks. The EOCs measured include illicit drugs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), antibiotics, blood lipid regulators, anti-epileptic drugs, UV filters, caffeine, atenolol, and omeprazole.

Methods:

Sea water samples collected in October 2010 from 53 sites in the southwest Taiwan coastal waters (figure 1) were stored in clean bottles at 4°C (when samples are kept frozen they are less likely to alter). Samples were analyzed by solid phase extraction and high performance liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (SPE-LC-MS/MS), which in essence separates and measures different components of a pressurized fluid. Standard solutions for all 31 EOC’s were prepared and also analyzed along with the samples.

Figure 1: Samples sites along southwest coast of Taiwan. T stations are in the Tainan coast, K stations are in the Kaohsiung coast, and P stations are in the Pingdong coast.

Figure 1: Samples sites along southwest coast of Taiwan. T stations are in the Tainan coast, K stations are in the Kaohsiung coast, and P stations are in the Pingdong coast.

The analytical technique used was not straight forward partly because this type of work is not overwhelming common, and also because residual concentrations of components investigated are present in minute levels, like nanograms per liter (to compare the weight of a human cell is about 1 nanogram). Researchers had to be meticulous about recovery and detection limits; they determined that their analytical technique was plausible and the results reliable.

In addition to chemical analysis scientists also assessed the risk factor (or risk quotient, RQ) associated with the presence of EOCs. To summarize, a risk quotient for an aquatic organism is determined from the measured concentration and the ‘predicted no-effect concentration’ (the concentration that has no impact on the surroundings). The scores will either be minimal risk if RQ is less than .1, medium risk is RQ is less than 1, or high risk if the RQ is greater than or equal to 1.

Results

Of the 31 drugs studied only 13 were detectable in the samples measured (figure 2).   The three EOCs detected in all samples were acetaminophen (taken for aches and pains), caffeine (taken as a stimulant), and pseudoephedrine (taken for colds and allergies). Codeine was detected in 98% of the samples. Seven of the EOCs investigated were detected in less than 46% of the samples. The highest concentration of EOCs detected was 157.1 ng/L at site K12 near the Jhongjhou sewage treatment plant outfall, which treats sewage from the densely populated city Kaohsiung (9,948 persons/km2) but does not treat to remove EOC’s.

EOC concentration profiles in seawater samples off southwestern Taiwan.

EOC concentration profiles in seawater samples off southwestern Taiwan.

Higher concentrations of EOCs (10’s ng/L) were observed along the coast closest to urbanized areas, like Kaohsiung. They also tend to be concentrated in areas of river discharge (estuaries), which may be impacted by running through areas of agriculture and may receive treated and untreated sewage.  At sites far from urbanized area and rivers the EOCs levels were at trace amounts (1- 10 ng/L). There was some discrepancy of the EOC concentrations near outfalls. For examples while samples near the outfall of Kaohsiung had high concentrations this was not the case at the two other outfalls in the sample area, which had lower concentrations by a factor of up to 8. It was noted that perhaps the sewage treatment plants role in EOC concentration is dependent on outfall characteristics like type of wastewater and the discharge capacity.

Principle component analysis was preformed to determine the likely sources of contamination. It was no surprise that the source is anthropogenic, related to human and animal medicine, as well as land and marine farming.

Risk assessment determined that aquatic organisms are at low risk to the EOCs from codeine and acetaminophen. Codeine poses a higher risk near densely populated areas. The site near the Jhongjhou outfall had an RQ greater than 1. Future work on the effects of EOCs has a whole must be investigated to improve risk assessments.

This study is only one a few that investigated the role of EOCs in the marine environment. Much more work can be done in the area; the scientists of this study suggest starting with a study on the temporal variation of EOCs at these sites.

Conclusion

Pollution at minute levels can leave an imprint with a potential to harm the environment.  Information from studies like the one summarized here can be used to inform environmental policy at a regional level and provide a platform for assessment of future impacts from EOC’s.

Research like this is attempting to stay ahead of the game on organic micropollutants in the coastal waters, and its significance may become greater in the future as populations grow, technology advances, and human knowledge and ability to synthesize organic compounds evolves.

Discussion

No comments yet.

Post a Comment

Instagram

  • by oceanbites 5 days ago
    Leveling up - did you know that crabs have a larval phase? These are both porcelain crabs, but the one on the right is the earlier stage. It’s massive spine makes it both difficult to eat and quite conspicuous in
  • by oceanbites 2 weeks ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  on  #Oceanbites  we are featuring Cierra Braga. Cierra works ultraviolet c (UVC) to discover how this light can be used to combat biofouling, or the growth of living things, on the hulls of ships. Here, you
  • by oceanbites 3 weeks ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  at  #Oceanbites  we are featuring Elena Gadoutsis  @haysailor  These photos feature her “favorite marine research so far: From surveying tropical coral reefs, photographing dolphins and whales, and growing my own algae to expose it to different
  • by oceanbites 1 month ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  on Oceanbites we are featuring Eliza Oldach. According to Ellie, “I study coastal communities, and try to understand the policies and decisions and interactions and adaptations that communities use to navigate an ever-changing world. Most of
  • by oceanbites 2 months ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  at  #Oceanbites  we are featuring Jiwoon Park with a little photographic help from Ryan Tabata at the University of Hawaii. When asked about her research, Jiwoon wrote “Just like we need vitamins and minerals to stay
  • by oceanbites 2 months ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  on  #Oceanbites  we are featuring  @riley_henning  According to Riley, ”I am interested in studying small things that make a big impact in the ocean. Right now for my master's research at the University of San Diego,
  • by oceanbites 2 months ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  at  #Oceanbites  we are featuring Gabby Stedman. Gabby is interested in interested in understanding how many species of small-bodied animals there are in the deep-sea and where they live so we can better protect them from
  • by oceanbites 2 months ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  at  #Oceanbites  we are featuring Shawn Wang! Shawn is “an oceanographer that studies ocean conditions of the past. I use everything from microfossils to complex computer models to understand how climate has changed in the past
  • by oceanbites 3 months ago
    Today we are highlighting some of our awesome new authors for  #WriterWednesday  Today we have Daniel Speer! He says, “I am driven to investigate the interface of biology, chemistry, and physics, asking questions about how organisms or biological systems respond
  • by oceanbites 3 months ago
    Here at Oceanbites we love long-term datasets. So much happens in the ocean that sometimes it can be hard to tell if a trend is a part of a natural cycle or actually an anomaly, but as we gather more
  • by oceanbites 4 months ago
    Have you ever seen a lobster molt? Because lobsters have exoskeletons, every time they grow they have to climb out of their old shell, leaving them soft and vulnerable for a few days until their new shell hardens. Young, small
  • by oceanbites 4 months ago
    A lot of zooplankton are translucent, making it much easier to hide from predators. This juvenile mantis shrimp was almost impossible to spot floating in the water, but under a dissecting scope it’s features really come into view. See the
  • by oceanbites 5 months ago
    This is a clump of Dead Man’s Fingers, scientific name Codium fragile. It’s native to the Pacific Ocean and is invasive where I found it on the east coast of the US. It’s a bit velvety, and the coolest thing
  • by oceanbites 5 months ago
    You’ve probably heard of jellyfish, but have you heard of salps? These gelatinous sea creatures band together to form long chains, but they can also fall apart and will wash up onshore like tiny gemstones that squish. Have you seen
  • by oceanbites 6 months ago
    Check out what’s happening on a cool summer research cruise! On the  #neslter  summer transect cruise, we deployed a tow sled called the In Situ Icthyoplankton Imaging System. This can take pictures of gelatinous zooplankton (like jellyfish) that would be
  • by oceanbites 6 months ago
    Did you know horseshoe crabs have more than just two eyes? In these juveniles you can see another set in the middle of the shell. Check out our website to learn about some awesome horseshoe crab research.  #oceanbites   #plankton   #horseshoecrabs 
  • by oceanbites 7 months ago
    Feeling a bit flattened by the week? So are these summer flounder larvae. Fun fact: flounder larvae start out with their eyes set like normal fish, but as they grow one of their eyes migrates to meet the other and
  • by oceanbites 7 months ago
    Have you seen a remote working setup like this? This is a photo from one of our Oceanbites team members Anne Hartwell. “A view from inside the control can of an underwater robot we used to explore the deep parts
  • by oceanbites 8 months ago
    Today is the day of  #shutdownacademia  and  #shutdownstem  and many of us at the Oceanbites team are taking the day to plan solid actions for how we can make our organization and the institutions we work at a better place
  • by oceanbites 8 months ago
    Black lives matter. The recent murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd have once again brought to light the racism in our country. All of us at Oceanbites stand with our Black colleagues, friends, readers, and family. The
WP2Social Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com