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Monitoring pharmaceuticals and personal care products in reservoir water used for drinking water supply

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In this work, the presence of selected emerging contaminants has been investigated in two reservoirs, La Fe (LF) and Rio Grande (RG), which supply water to two drinking water treatment plants (DWTPs) of Medellin, one of the most populated cities of Colombia. An analytical method based on solid-phase extraction (SPE) of the sample followed by measurement by liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS) was developed and validated for this purpose. Five monitoring campaigns were performed in each reservoir, collecting samples from 7 sites (LF) and 10 sites (RG) at 3 different depths of the water column. In addition, water samples entering in the DWTPs and treated water samples from these plans were also analysed for the selected compounds. Data from this work showed that parabens, UV filters and the pharmaceutical ibuprofen were commonly present in most of the reservoir samples. Thus, methyl paraben was detected in around 90% of the samples collected, while ibuprofen was found in around 60% of the samples. Water samples feeding the DWTPs also contained these two compounds, as well as benzophenone at low concentrations, which was in general agreement with the results from the reservoir samples. After treatment in the DWTPs, these three compounds were still present in the samples although at low concentrations (<40 ng/L), which evidenced that they were not completely removed after the conventional treatment applied. The potential effects of the presence of these compounds at the ppt levels in drinking water are still unknown. Further research is needed to evaluate the effect of chronic exposure to these compounds via consumption of drinking water.

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This work has been developed under the financial support provided by Empresa Públicas de Medellin. The authors wish to thank Marian Martinez from the GDCON research team for their help with the analysis. Carolina Aristizábal is especially grateful with Carlos Lopez, professor of University of Antioquia, for his technical advice in the development of this work. The advices and help of Professor Felix Hernandez, from University Jaume I, is greatly appreciated.

Author information

Correspondence to Carolina Aristizabal-Ciro or Ana María Botero-Coy.

Additional information

Carolina Aristizabal-Ciro and Ana María Botero-Coy contributed equally to the design, development, writing and revision of the present article.

Responsible editor: Ester Heath

Electronic supplementary material

ESM. 1

In this section, two figures are included, showing the distribution of IBU and MePB in reservoir RG (Figure 1SI) and in reservoir LF (Figure 2SI) water collected at three depths for different sampling stations and monitoring dates. Also three tables, 1SI: Monitoring plan for reservoirs, tributary rivers and DWTPs, 2SI: Concentrations (ng/L) found for BZP, MePB and IBU in samples from reservoir RG, 3SI: Concentrations (ng/L) found for BZP, MePB and IBU in samples from reservoir LF, are included to support the information given in the manuscript. (DOCX 1069 kb)

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Aristizabal-Ciro, C., Botero-Coy, A.M., López, F.J. et al. Monitoring pharmaceuticals and personal care products in reservoir water used for drinking water supply. Environ Sci Pollut Res 24, 7335–7347 (2017).

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  • Emerging contaminants
  • Personal care products
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Drinking water
  • Reservoir water