Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 20, Issue 12, pp 8391–8403 | Cite as

Pharmaceutical residues in tidal surface sediments of three rivers in southeastern China at detectable and measurable levels

  • Yongshan S. Chen
  • Shen Yu
  • Youwei W. Hong
  • Qiaoying Y. Lin
  • Hongbo B. Li
Contaminated Land, Ecological Assessment and Remediation Conference Series (CLEAR 2012) : Environmental Pollution and Risk Assessments


Pharmaceutical compounds were increasingly detected in environmental matrices but little is known whether these compounds would transport to coastal zones via watersheds. Three typical tidal rivers in southeastern China were selected and 15 surface sediment samples (0–10 cm) were collected along a 50-km tidal section of each river. Surface sediment samples were frozen-drying and then extracted for pharmaceutical compounds by an accelerated solvent extraction system. The pharmaceutical compounds in extracts were scanned using a high-performance liquid chromatography/tandern mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS). Three hundred and thirty compounds from nine pharmaceutical groups were detected with signal-to-noise above three (detectable level) in the surface sediments, of which 186 compounds were with a signal-to-noise above ten (measurable level). Of all, 291 and 80 compounds were detectable and measurable in all the three rivers, respectively. The Jiulong River showed a high load of pharmaceutical compounds in surface sediment than other two rivers. Of the nine pharmaceutical groups, the antihistamines and detoxification group and anti-infective drug group contributed five dominant compounds in the surface sediments in all the three rivers. Natures of pharmaceutical compounds rather than the sediment properties (pH, EC, and total carbon content) might influence their residues. The incredible number and intensity of pharmaceutical residues were detected in tidal surface sediments of the three rivers indicating that the pharmaceutical contamination should be strongly considered in China. Source identification and eco-toxicity assessment should be taken into account in the future study. Therapeutic medicine managements need to be strictly improved at a watershed scale to reduce loads of pharmaceuticals into aquatic ecosystems.


Pharmaceuticals Therapeutic groups Surface sediment Tidal rivers Southeastern China 



This study was financially supported by “Knowledge Innovation Program” of Chinese Academy of Sciences (KZCX2-YW-JC402).

Supplementary material

11356_2013_1871_MOESM1_ESM.doc (492 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 492 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yongshan S. Chen
    • 1
  • Shen Yu
    • 1
  • Youwei W. Hong
    • 1
  • Qiaoying Y. Lin
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Hongbo B. Li
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Urban Environment and Health, Institute of Urban EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesXiamenChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.School of Resources and Environmental ScienceQuanzhou Normal UniversityQuanzhouChina

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