Evaluation of chemical and biological contaminants of emerging concern in treated wastewater intended for agricultural reuse

Nikiforos A. Alygizakis, Jakub Urík, Vasiliki G. Beretsou, Ioannis Kampouris, Aikaterini Galani, Martina Oswaldova, Thomas Berendonk, Peter Oswald, Nikolaos S. Thomaidis, Jaroslav Slobodnik, Branislav Vrana, Despo Fatta-Kassinos
2020 Environment International  
The occurrence of chemical and biological contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) was investigated in treated wastewater intended for reuse in agriculture. An agarose hydrogel diffusion-based passive sampler was exposed to the outlet of a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) located in Cyprus, which is equipped with membrane bioreactor (MBR). Passive samplers in triplicate were exposed according to a time-series exposure plan with maximum exposure duration of 28 days. Composite flow-proportional
more » ... flow-proportional wastewater samples were collected in parallel with the passive sampling exposure plan and were processed by solid phase extraction using HORIZON SPE-DEX 4790 and the same sorbent material (Oasis HLB) as in the passive sampler. The analysis of passive samplers and wastewater samples enabled (i) the field-scale calibration of the passive sampler prototype by the calculation of in situ sampling rates of target substances, and (ii) the investigation of in silico predicted transformation products of the four most ecotoxicologically hazardous antibiotics (azithromycin, clarithromycin, erythromycin, ofloxacin). Additionally, the wastewater samples were subjected to the analysis of seven preselected antibiotic resistant genes (ARGs) and one mobile resistant element (int1). All extracts were analyzed for chemicals in a single batch using a highly sensitive method for pharmaceuticals, antibiotics and illicit drugs by liquid chromatography tandem MS/MS (LC-QQQ) and for various other target compounds (2316 compounds in total) by liquid chromatography high-resolution mass spectrometry (LC-HRMS). 279 CECs and all investigated ARGs (except for blaCTX-M-32) were detected, highlighting potential chemical and biological hazards related to wastewater reuse practices. 16 CECs were prioritized following ecotoxicological risk assessment, whereas sul1 and the mobile resistant element (int1) showed the highest abundance. Comprehensive monitoring efforts using novel sampling methods such as passive sampling, wide-scope target screening and molecular analysis are required to assure safe application of wastewater reuse and avoid spread and crop uptake of potentially hazardous chemicals.
doi:10.1016/j.envint.2020.105597 pmid:32120059 fatcat:xzc2gtsy6baxlhebwsghqlypaq