Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 1903–1913 | Cite as

The different fate of antibiotics in the Thames River, UK, and the Katsura River, Japan

  • Seiya HanamotoEmail author
  • Norihide Nakada
  • Monika D. Jürgens
  • Andrew C. Johnson
  • Naoyuki Yamashita
  • Hiroaki Tanaka
Research Article


Little is known about the mechanisms influencing the differences in attenuation of antibiotics between rivers. In this study, the natural attenuation of four antibiotics (azithromycin, clarithromycin, sulfapyridine, and sulfamethoxazole) during transport along the Thames River, UK, over a distance of 8.3 km, and the Katsura River, Japan, over a distance of 7.6 km was compared. To assist interpretation of the field data, the individual degradation and sorption characteristics of the antibiotics were estimated by laboratory experiments using surface water or sediment taken from the same rivers. Azithromycin, clarithromycin, and sulfapyridine were attenuated by 92, 48, and 11% in the Thames River stretch. The first-order decay constants of azithromycin and sulfapyridine were similar to those in the Katsura River, while that of clarithromycin was 4.4 times higher. For sulfamethoxazole, the attenuation was limited in both rivers. Loss of sulfapyridine was attributed to both direct and indirect photolysis in the Thames River, but to only direct photolysis in the Katsura River. Loss of azithromycin and clarithromycin was attributed to sorption to sediment in both rivers. The probable explanation behind the difference in loss rates of clarithromycin between the two rivers was considered to be sediment sorption capacity.


Antibiotics Natural attenuation Sorption Sediment Direct photolysis Indirect photolysis 



We thank the Japanese Ministry of the Environment and DEFRA-supported UK/Japan cooperation. We thank Dr. SangJung Lee, Dr. Vimal Kumar, Dr. Masaru Ihara, and several students of the Research Center for Environmental Quality Management, Kyoto University, for their assistance in the laboratory and in the fieldwork. We thank Dr. Michael J. Bowes of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology for providing water quality data. This work was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (A) (25257304, 23254003, and 26257302) and funding from the UK Natural Environment Research Council.

Supplementary material

11356_2017_523_MOESM1_ESM.docx (78 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 78 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Seiya Hanamoto
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Norihide Nakada
    • 1
  • Monika D. Jürgens
    • 3
  • Andrew C. Johnson
    • 3
  • Naoyuki Yamashita
    • 1
  • Hiroaki Tanaka
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Center for Environmental Quality Management, Graduate School of EngineeringKyoto UniversityOtsuJapan
  2. 2.Public Works Research Institute (PWRI)TsukubaJapan
  3. 3.Centre for Ecology and HydrologyMaclean Building, Crowmarsh GiffordWallingfordUK

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