Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 23, Issue 8, pp 7985–7997 | Cite as

Widespread occurrence and seasonal variation of pharmaceuticals in surface waters and municipal wastewater treatment plants in central Finland

  • Petra C. Lindholm-LehtoEmail author
  • Heidi S. J. Ahkola
  • Juha S. Knuutinen
  • Sirpa H. Herve
Research Article


The presence of five selected pharmaceuticals, consisting of four anti-inflammatory drugs, diclofenac, ibuprofen, ketoprofen, naproxen, and an antiepileptic drug carbamazepine, was determined at four municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and in the receiving waterway in central Finland. The samples were taken from influents and effluents of the WWTPs and from surface water of six locations along the water way, including northern Lake Päijänne. In addition, seasonal variation in the area was determined by comparing the concentrations in the winter and summer. The samples were analyzed by liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) in the multiple reaction monitoring mode. The concentrations in the influents and effluents ranged from hundreds of nanogram per liter to microgram per liter while ranged from tens of nanogram per liter in northern parts of the waterway to hundreds of nanogram per liter in northern Lake Päijänne near the city area. In addition, the concentrations were higher in the winter compared to summer time in surface water due to decreased temperature and solar irradiation. On the other hand, higher concentrations of ibuprofen, ketoprofen, and naproxen were found in summer at the WWTPs, possibly due to seasonal variations in consumption. In conclusion, there are considerable amounts of pharmaceuticals not only in influents and effluents of the WWTPs but also in lake water along the waterway and in northern Lake Päijänne.


Antiepileptic drug Anti-inflammatory drug Influent and effluent Lake water Municipal wastewater treatment plant Pharmaceuticals Seasonal variation 



The authors would like to thank for the financial support from Maa-ja vesitekniikan tuki ry. In addition, the cooperation during sampling with Nab Labs Oy, Nenäinniemi WWTP (Jyväskylän Seudun Puhdistamo Oy), Äänekoski WWTP (Äänekosken Energia Oy), and Saarilampi and Pylkönmäki WWTPs (Saarijärven Vesihuolto Oy) is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Petra C. Lindholm-Lehto
    • 1
    Email author
  • Heidi S. J. Ahkola
    • 2
  • Juha S. Knuutinen
    • 1
  • Sirpa H. Herve
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryUniversity of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland
  2. 2.Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), Laboratory Centre, Ecotoxicology and Risk AssessmentJyväskyläFinland

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