Contaminants of emerging concern in surface waters in Barbados, West Indies
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Contaminants of emerging concern (CECs), including pharmaceuticals, artificial sweeteners, steroid hormones, and current-use pesticides have been detected in surface waters around the world, but to date, there have been no reports in the peer-reviewed literature on the levels of these classes of contaminants in freshwater resources in the Caribbean region. In the present study, multi-residue solid phase extraction (SPE) and liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectroscopy (LC-MS/MS) were used to analyze grab samples of surface waters collected from five different watersheds in Barbados, West Indies. The artificial sweeteners (AS), acesulfame, cyclamate, saccharin, and sucralose were widely detected in the watersheds, indicating contamination from domestic wastewater, and the concentrations of these chemical tracers in water were correlated with the concentrations of the non-prescription pharmaceutical, ibuprofen (R 2 values of 0.4–0.6). Surprisingly, the concentrations of another chemical tracer of domestic wastewater, caffeine were not correlated with ibuprofen or AS concentrations. Several other prescription pharmaceuticals and the steroid hormones, estrone and androstenedione, were detected in selected watersheds at low ng/L concentrations. The fungicide, chlorothalonil was widely detected in surface waters at low (< 10 ng/L) concentrations, but the levels of this pesticide were not correlated with the concentrations of the other target analytes, indicating that the source of this pesticide is not domestic wastewater. An informal survey of disposal practices for out of date or unused drugs by pharmacies in Barbados indicated that disposal into trash destined for the landfill and flushing down the sink might be significant sources of contamination of water resources by pharmaceuticals.
KeywordsPharmaceuticals Caffeine Artificial sweeteners Fungicides Wastewater Barbados West Indies
Quincy Edwards received financial support from the Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program (ELAP) of the Government of Canada, as well as a Graduate Student Research Award from the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus. The funding agencies played no role in the writing or interpretation of the manuscript. Water sampling was assisted by the Barbados Water Authority and the Environmental Protection Department, more specifically Mr. Gregory Thompson and Mr. Anthony Headley. The extraction of contaminants was made possible through the guidance of Brenda Seaborn in the lab of C. Metcalfe. All analyses were conducted at the Water Quality Centre at Trent University, Ontario, Canada.
All five authors (QE, SK, LG, CM, and TS) were equally involved in the design and execution of the conducted research (project conception, research planning, laboratory experimentation, data collection, and data analysis). The authors were significantly involved in statistical analysis, manuscript drafting and editing. Moreover, all five authors have given final approval of the manuscript and acknowledge their accountability of the contents of the paper.
Compliance with ethical standards
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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