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Occurrence and fate of PPCPs and correlations with water quality parameters in urban riverine waters of the Pearl River Delta, South China


The occurrence and fate of eight PPCPs was studied in river waters from upstream to downstream of the three rivers in the Pearl River Delta, China. The correlations of PPCP levels and water quality parameters were also investigated. The analytes of the highest concentrations were caffeine, acetaminophen, and ciprofloxacin. Carbamazepine and erythromycin-H2O were detected at the lowest concentrations. The highest concentrations of PPCPs were found in the Shijing River, with 865 ng/L caffeine, 339 ng/L acetaminophen, and 304 ng/L ciprofloxacin. In general, the levels of PPCPs in the Zhujiang River were higher at sites where the metropolitan city Guangzhou is located and decreased from the epicenter along the river. Low levels of PPCPs were generally found in the Beijiang River. Positive correlations were found between PPCP levels, total nitrogen, ammonium nitrogen, and cumulative fluorescence excitation-emission matrix (EEM) volume. Among the four PPCPs evaluated (caffeine, acetaminophen, ciprofloxacin, and sulfamethoxazole), caffeine had the best correlations with the correlation coefficients ranging from 0.62 to 0.98. The prediction of PPCP concentrations at specified locations can be substantially simplified.

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We thank China's Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (Project No. 11lgpy95) to financially support this study.

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Correspondence to Xin Yang or Fangang Meng.

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Responsible editor: Leif Kronberg

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Yang, X., Chen, F., Meng, F. et al. Occurrence and fate of PPCPs and correlations with water quality parameters in urban riverine waters of the Pearl River Delta, South China. Environ Sci Pollut Res 20, 5864–5875 (2013).

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  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Caffeine
  • Pearl River Delta
  • Total nitrogen
  • Fluorescence