Ground water

Presence of Antibiotics in Shallow Groundwater in the Northern and Southwestern Regions of China.

PMID 28940442


Antibiotics are widely used, and there is a serious concern about its adverse impacts on the environment and human health. To our knowledge, prior to this work, there was no evidence of the potential presence of antibiotics in groundwater in China, despite populous speculations. This study reported the detection of 35 target antibiotics of 6 groups (chloramphenicois, lincosamides, marcrolides, quinolones, sulfonamides, and tetracyclines), in shallow groundwater samples collected in northern and southwestern China. Thirty-four of thirty-five target antibiotics were detected in the groundwater samples; 73 of 74 monitoring wells contained at least one antibiotic; and at least two antibiotics were detected in 72 of the 74 wells. Ofloxacin (1199.7 ng/L), lincomycin (860.7 ng/L), and norfloxacin (441.9 ng/L) as well as antibiotics with the highest detection frequency such as sulfapyridine (70%), norfloxacin (69%), and lincomycin (64%) were detected at elevated concentrations. The highest detection frequency and concentration of lincosamides were observed in those groundwater samples, but no clear distribution patterns were observed for the six antibiotic groups. Moreover, shallow groundwater in southwestern China seemed to contain most antibiotics, likely due to the high antibiotics discharge and frequent exchange of groundwater with surface matrices. The findings from this work suggest that groundwater in China has been widely contaminated by antibiotics, and presumably other pharmaceutical compounds that have not been investigated to date.