Occurrence of selected domestic and hospital emerging micropollutants on a rural surface water basin linked to a groundwater karst catchment

  • Joanna DoummarEmail author
  • Michel Aoun
Original Article


The occurrence of specific micropollutants (MPs), indicators of domestic and hospital wastewater, was investigated in a river connected to a karst spring based on two sampling campaigns under varying flow conditions. The MPs characterized by a high frequency of occurrence (acesulfame-K, ibuprofen, gemfibrozil, nonylphenol, and iohexol) were highly reflective of wastewater discharged in ephemeral streams and tributaries, as well as specific point sources such as farms and hospital effluents. A mixing model based on chloride mass fluxes allows the quantification of the percentage of untreated wastewater effluents in inflowing water from river tributaries, which varied between 0.7–99% and 5.0–10% in low flow and high flow, respectively. The frequency of occurrence of MPs is related to the volume of wastewater input, extent of river dilution, persistence of the MPs, and type of point source contamination on the river. Relationships were established between MPs such as ibuprofen and acesulfame-K (ACE-K), indicating their co-existence in highly consumed generic medicine and their suitability as wastewater co-tracers. Additionally, the number of consumers of gemfibrozil (GEM) and acesulfame-K were estimated based on mass loads in the river tributaries for management purposes. Groundwater contamination is mostly due to diffuse and point sources infiltration occurring on the spring catchment, including the sinking stream that could contribute up to 17% to the mass loads of some micropollutants (e.g., ACE-K and GEM) at the spring. Nevertheless, the increase of MPs use with growing urbanization is expected to have a much significant impact on the groundwater quality in the future.


Micropollutants Waste water indicators Karst 



This work was funded by a USAID PEER Science project Award number (102881; Cycle 3). The authors would also like to thank Fouad Andari and Emmanuel Dubois for their help during fieldwork. Andy Eaton from the Eurofins Laboratories in California is thanked for performing the analysis. The kind support of Beirut and Mount Lebanon Water Establishment and the Litani Water Authority is highly appreciated.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeologyAmerican University of BeirutBeirutLebanon

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