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Occurrence and fate of selected anticancer, antimicrobial, and psychotropic pharmaceuticals in an urban river in a subcatchment of the Yodo River basin, Japan

Abstract

Pollution status of six anticancer agents in the river water and effluents of sewage treatment plants (STPs) in Japan was surveyed with comparative analysis of the levels of four microbial and one psychotropic pharmaceuticals widely used for therapeutic medication. The area of survey is located in the Kanzaki–Ai River basin which is a major subcatchment of the Yodo River basin and is centered on a highly populated area that includes the middle and downstream reaches of the Yodo River. Selected cancer agents were bicalutamide, capecitabine, cyclophosphamide, doxifluridine, tamoxifen, and tegafur. A combination of strong anion solid-phase extraction cartridge under pH 11 for adsorption and optimization of liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectroscopy (LC–MS/MS) system was necessary to ensure high recovery rates (63–124 % for river water and 52–115 % for STP effluent). The year-round survey of these compounds in four seasons showed that all anticancer compounds were detected at median concentrations ranged from not detected to 32 ng/L in the river water and from not detected to 245 ng/L in the effluents of sewage treatment plants not using ozonation. In the case of bicalutamide (an active antiandrogen used to treat prostate cancer), the maximum concentration detected was 254 ng/L in river water and 1032 ng/L in non-ozonated sewage treatment plant effluents. Based on the mass balance, sewage treatment plants were the primary sources of anticancer compounds as well as the other pharmaceuticals in the river, and the attenuation effect of the river water was small. Ozonation at sewage treatment plants was effective in removing these compounds. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to report the existence of bicalutamide, doxifluridine, and tegafur in the river environment.

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Acknowledgments

We thank the staff of the STPs for sampling the water. We acknowledge the River Foundation for the funding in the form of research and scholarships.

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Correspondence to Takashi Azuma.

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Responsible editor: Ester Heath

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Azuma, T., Ishiuchi, H., Inoyama, T. et al. Occurrence and fate of selected anticancer, antimicrobial, and psychotropic pharmaceuticals in an urban river in a subcatchment of the Yodo River basin, Japan. Environ Sci Pollut Res 22, 18676–18686 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-015-5013-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-015-5013-6

Keywords

  • Ozonation
  • PPCPs
  • Urban river
  • Sewage treatment plant
  • Solid-phase extraction
  • UPLC–MS/MS