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Water research

Occurrence and distribution of psychoactive compounds and their metabolites in the urban water cycle of Berlin (Germany).


PMID 22967903

Abstract

The occurrence and distribution of six psychoactive compounds (primidone, phenobarbital, oxazepam, diazepam, meprobamate, and pyrithyldione) and a metabolite of primidone (phenylethylmalonamide) were investigated in wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluents, surface water, groundwater of a bank filtration site, raw and final drinking water, and in groundwater affected by former sewage irrigation. Primidone and its metabolite phenylethylmalonamide were found to be ubiquitous in environmental water samples in Berlin. Maximum concentrations of 0.87 and 0.42 μg/L, respectively, were encountered in WWTP effluents. Both compounds are apparently not removed when passaging through the different compartments of the water cycle and concentrations are only reduced by dilution. Phenobarbital was present at nearly every stage of the Berlin water cycle with the exception of raw and final drinking water. The highest concentrations of phenobarbital (up to 0.96 μg/L) were measured in groundwater influenced by former sewage irrigation. Oxazepam was only present in WWTP effluents and surface waters (up to 0.18 μg/L), while diazepam was not detected in any matrix. Due to their withdrawal from the German market years ago, the pharmaceuticals meprobamate and pyrithyldione were only found in sewage farm groundwater (up to 0.50 and 0.04 μg/L, respectively) and, in case of meprobamate, also in decade old bank filtrate (0.03 μg/L). Our results indicate a high persistence of some of the investigated compounds in the aquatic system. As a consequence, these pollutants may potentially reach drinking water resources via bank filtration if present in WWTP effluents and/or surface waters in partly closed water cycles such as Berlin's.