Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Distribution and fate of synthetic musks in the Songhua River, Northeastern China: influence of environmental variables

  • 413 Accesses

  • 13 Citations


Contamination levels and spatial and temporal distributions of six typical synthetic musks (SMs) in water and sediment of the Songhua River in Northeastern China were investigated. Experimental data for 72 water and 52 sediment samples collected at 29 sampling sites over 12 months spanning 2011–2012 showed that the Songhua River had been contaminated to different degrees at various sites separately from the river’s source. The polycyclic musks 1,3,4,6,7,8-hexahydro-4,6,6,7,8,8-hexamethylcyclopenta-(g)-2-benzopyran (HHCB) (Galaxolide) and 7-acetyl-1,1,3,4,4,6-hexamethyl-1,2,3,4-tetrahydronaphthalene (AHTN) (Tonalide) were found most frequently and at the highest levels. Concentrations of HHCB were <2–37 ng/L in water and <0.5–17.5 ng/g dry weight (dw) in sediment. AHTN was <1–8 ng/L in water and <0.5–5.7 ng/g dw in sediment. Statistical relationships between SM concentrations and four environmental variables (temperature, illumination, runoff, and population density) in the Songhua River Basin were formulated. Concentration levels varied proportionately with the size of the city along the river, while the distribution patterns showed clear seasonal variations. HHCB/AHTN ratios mirrored the transfer and transmitting process of SMs. Concentrations of target compounds were correlated with each other, suggesting similar exposure sources. Environmental risk assessment of SMs presented seasonal variations and provided baseline information on SM exposure in the Songhua River Basin.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5


  1. Balk F, Ford RA (1999a) Environmental risk assessment for the polycyclic musks, AHTN and HHCB in the EU: I. Fate and exposure assessment. Toxicol Lett 111:57–79

  2. Balk F, Ford RA (1999b) Environmental risk assessment for the polycyclic musks, AHTN and HHCB: II. Effect assessment and risk characterisation. Toxicol Lett 111:81–94

  3. Benotti MJ, Trenholm RA, Vanderford BJ, Holady JC, Stanford BD, Snyder SA (2009) Pharmaceuticals and endocrine disrupting compounds in U.S. drinking water. Environ Sci Technol 43:597–603

  4. Bester K (2005) Polycyclic musks in the Ruhr catchment area-transport, discharges of waste water, and transformations of HHCB, AHTN and HHCB-lactone. J Environ Monit 7:43–51

  5. Buerge IJ, Buser HR, Müller MD, Poiger T (2003) Behavior of the polycyclic musks HHCB and AHTN in lakes, two potential anthropogenic markers for domestic wastewater in surface waters. Environ Sci Technol 37:5636–5644

  6. Chase DA, Karnjanapiboonwong A, Fang Y, Cobb GP, Morse AN, Anderson TA (2012) Occurrence of synthetic musk fragrances in effluent and non-effluent impacted environments. Sci Total Environ 416:253–260

  7. Dsikowitzky L, Schwarzbauer J, Littke R (2002) Distribution of polycyclic musks in water and particulate matter of the Lippe River (Germany). Org Geochem 33:1747–1758

  8. Fono LJ, Kolodziej EP, Sedlak DL (2006) Attenuation of wastewater-derived contaminants in an effluent-dominated river. Environ Sci Technol 40:7257–7262

  9. Gómez MJ, Herrera S, Solé D, García-Calvo E, Fernández-Alba AR (2012) Spatio-temporal evaluation of organic contaminants and their transformation products along a river basin affected by urban, agricultural and industrial pollution. Sci Total Environ 420:134–145

  10. Heberer T (2002) Occurrence, fate, and assessment of polycyclic musk residues in the aquatic environment of urban areas—a review. Acta Hydrochim Hydrobiol 30:227–243

  11. Hu ZJ, Shi YL, Niu HY, Cai YQ, Jiang GB, Wu YN (2010) Occurrence of synthetic musk fragrances in human blood from 11 cities in China. Environ Toxicol Chem 29:1877–1882

  12. Hu ZJ, Shi YL, Cai YQ (2011) Concentrations, distribution, and bioaccumulation of synthetic musks in the Haihe River of China. Chemosphere 84:1630–1635

  13. Hu ZJ, Shi YL, Niu HY, Cai YQ (2012) Synthetic musk fragrances and heavy metals in snow samples of Beijing urban area, China. Atmos Res 104:302–305

  14. Kannan K, Reiner JL, Yun SH, Perrotta EE, Tao L, Johnson-Restrepo B, Rodan BD (2005) Polycyclic musk compounds in higher trophic level aquatic organisms and humans from the United States. Chemosphere 61:693–700

  15. Lee IS, Lee SH, Oh JE (2010) Occurrence and fate of synthetic musk compounds in water environment. Water Res 44:214–222

  16. Lignell S, Darnerud PO, Aune M, Cnattingius S, Hajslova J, Setkova L, Glynn A (2008) Temporal trends of synthetic musk compounds in mother’s milk and associations with personal use of perfumed products. Environ Sci Technol 42:6743–6748

  17. Liu N, Shi Y, Xu L, Li W, Cai Y (2013) Occupational exposure to synthetic musks in barbershops, compared with the common exposure in the dormitories and households. Chemosphere 93:1804–1810

  18. Lu Y, Yuan T, Wang W, Kannan K (2011) Concentrations and assessment of exposure to siloxanes and synthetic musks in personal care products from China. Environ Pollut 159:3522–3528

  19. Lu BY, Feng YJ, Gao P, Zhang ZH (2014) Occurrence behavior and removal efficiencies of synthetic musks in a sewage treatment plant. Desalination and Water Treatment (in submittal process)

  20. Lv Y, Yuan T, Hu JY, Wang WH (2009) Simultaneous determination of trace polycyclic musks and nitro musks in water samples using optimized solid-phase extraction by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. Anal Sci 25:1125–1130

  21. Nakata H, Shinohara RI, Nakazawa Y, Isobe T, Sudaryanto A, Subramanian A, Tanabe S, Zakaria MP, Zheng GJ, Lam PKS, Kim EY, Min BY, We SU, Viet PH, Tana TS, Prudente M, Frank D, Lauenstein G, Kannan K (2012) Asia-Pacific mussel watch for emerging pollutants: distribution of synthetic musks and benzotriazole UV stabilizers in Asian and US coastal waters. Mar Pollut Bull 64:2211–2218

  22. Peck AM, Hornbuckle KC (2004) Synthetic musk fragrances in Lake Michigan. Environ Sci Technol 38:367–372

  23. Peck AM, Linebaugh EK, Hornbuckle KC (2006) Synthetic musk fragrances in Lake Erie and Lake Ontario sediment cores. Environ Sci Technol 40:5629–5635

  24. Quednow K, Püttmann W (2008) Organophosphates and synthetic musk fragrances in freshwater streams in Hessen/Germany. Clean Soil Air Water 36:70–77

  25. Reiner JL, Kannan K (2011) Polycyclic musks in water, sediment and fishes from the Upper Hudson River, New York, USA. Water Air Soil Pollut 214:335–342

  26. Rimkus GG (2004) Synthetic musk fragrances in the environment. In: The handbook of environmental chemistry, Part X; Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg, 338 p

  27. Salgado R, Noronha JP, Oehmen A, Carvalho G, Reis MAM (2010) Analysis of 65 pharmaceuticals and personal care products in 5 wastewater treatment plants in Portugal using a simplified analytical methodology. Water Sci Technol 62:2862–2871

  28. Salgado R, Marques R, Noronha JP, Mexia JT, Carvalho G, Oehmen A, Reis MA (2011) Assessing the diurnal variability of pharmaceutical and personal care products in a full-scale activated sludge plant. Environ Pollut 159:2359–2367

  29. Schramm KW, Kaune A, Beck B, Thumm W, Behechti A, Kettrup A, Nickolova P (1996) Acute toxicities of five nitro musk compounds in Daphnia, algae and photoluminescent bacteria. Water Res 30:2247–2250

  30. Smyth SA, Lishman L, Alaee M, Kleywegt S, Svoboda L, Yang JJ, Lee HB, Seto P (2007) Sample storage and extraction efficiencies in determination of polycyclic and nitro musks in sewage sludge. Chemosphere 67:267–275

  31. Sumner NR, Guitart C, Fuentes G, Readman JW (2010) Inputs and distributions of synthetic musk fragrances in an estuarine and coastal environment; a case study. Environ Pollut 158:215–222

  32. Tanabe S (2005) Synthetic musks—arising new environmental menace? Mar Pollut Bull 50:1025–1026

  33. U.S. Geological Survey (2006) Collection of water samples (ver. 2.0): U.S. geological survey techniques of water-resources investigations, book 9, chap. A4, September 2006. Accessed 25 September 2014.

  34. Villa S, Assi L, Ippolito A, Bonfanti P, Finizio A (2012) First evidences of the occurrence of polycyclic synthetic musk fragrances in surface water systems in Italy: spatial and temporal trends in the Molgora River (Lombardia Region, Northern Italy). Sci Total Environ 416:137–141

  35. Wang FL, Zhou Y, Guo YW, Zou LY, Zhang XL, Zeng XY (2010) Spatial and temporal distribution characteristics of synthetic musk in Suzhou Creek. J Shanghai Univ 14:306–311

  36. Wang C, Feng YJ, Gao P, Ren NQ, Li BL (2012) Simulation and prediction of phenolic compounds fate in Songhua River. China Sci Total Environ 431:366–374

  37. Wang Y, Wang P, Bai YJ, Tian ZX, Li JW, Shao X, Mustavich LF, Li BL (2013) Assessment of surface water quality via multivariate statistical techniques: a case study of the Songhua River Harbin region, China. J Hydro Environ Res 7:30–40

  38. Yamagishi T, Miyazaki T, Horii S, Akiyama K (1981) Identification of musk ketone in freshwater fish collected from the Tama River, Tokyo. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 26:656–662

  39. Yang JJ, Metcalfe CD (2006) Fate of synthetic musks in a domestic wastewater treatment plant and in an agricultural field amended with biosolids. Sci Total Environ 363:149–165

  40. Yoon Y, Ryu J, Oh J, Choi BG, Snyder SA (2010) Occurrence of endocrine disrupting compounds, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products in the Han River (Seoul, South Korea). Sci Total Environ 408:636–643

  41. Zeng XY, Sheng GY, Xiong Y, Fu JM (2005) Determination of polycyclic musks in sewage sludge from Guangdong, China using GC-EI-MS. Chemosphere 60:817–823

  42. Zeng XY, Mai BX, Sheng GY, Luo XJ, Shao WL, An TC, Fu JM (2008) Distribution of polycyclic musks in surface sediments from the Pearl River Delta and Macao coastal region, South China. Environ Toxicol Chem 27:18–23

  43. Zhang XL, Yao Y, Zeng XY, Qian GR, Guo YW, Wu MH, Sheng GY, Fu JM (2008) Synthetic musks in the aquatic environment and personal care products in Shanghai, China. Chemosphere 72:1553–1558

Download references


This work was supported by the National Major Science and Technology Projects for Water Pollution Control and Governance (2009ZX07207-008-5-2), the National Creative Research Groups of China (51121062), and the National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars (51125033). We wish to thank the Harbin Station of Environmental Monitoring, Heilongjiang Province, China, for river runoff data and sampling of water and sediment.

Conflict of interest

All authors have disclosed any actual or potential conflict of interest including any financial, personal, or other relationships with other people or organizations within 3 years of beginning the submitted work that could inappropriately influence, or be perceived to influence, their work.

Author information

Correspondence to Yujie Feng.

Additional information

Responsible editor: Leif Kronberg

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.


(DOC 2641 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Lu, B., Feng, Y., Gao, P. et al. Distribution and fate of synthetic musks in the Songhua River, Northeastern China: influence of environmental variables. Environ Sci Pollut Res 22, 9090–9099 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-014-3973-6

Download citation


  • Synthetic musk
  • Spatial and temporal distribution
  • Fate
  • Risk assessment
  • Surface water and sediment