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Journal: Journal of environmental science and health. Part A, Toxic/hazardous substances & environmental engineering


This study investigated the treatment in the constructed Wuluo wetland, Taiwan, of 13 veterinary antibiotics, including five classes (tetracyclines, sulfonimides, chloramphenicol, fluoroquinolone, and dyes), five alkylphenolic compounds (nonylphenol di-ethoxylates [NP2EO], nonylphenol mono-ethoxylates [NP1EO], nonylphenol [NP], octylphenol [OP], and bisphenol A [BPA]), and three estrogens (17β-estradiol [E2], estriol [E3], and 17α-ethynylestradiol [EE2]). The veterinary antibiotics oxytetracycline (OTC), ciprofloxacin (CIP), chloramphenicol (CAP), oxolinic acid (OXO), sulfamonomethoxine (SMM), and sulfadimethoxine (SDM) were detected in 7.1-96.4% of samples with concentrations varying widely from not detected to 552 ng/L. Removal efficiencies within different units of the wetland system exceeded 87% for OTC, CAP, SMM, and SDM, excluding those for IP and OXO, which were 72.1% and 43%, respectively. The other seven antibiotics (tetracycline [TC], enrofloxacin [ENR], chlortetracycline [CTC], sulfamerazine [SMR], sulfamethazine [SMZ], malachite green [MG], and leucomalachite green [LMG]) were all below detection limits in all samples. Additionally, detection rates were as follows: NP1EO, 70.0%; NP2EO, 70.0%; 4-n-NP, 72.9%; 4-OP, 50.0%; BPA, 81.3%; E2, 52.1%; E3, 57.1%; and EE2, 31.3%. Concentrations of the alkylphenolic compounds were as follows: NP1EO, ND-1092.7; NP2EO, ND-643.7; 4-n-NP, ND-6812.3; 4-OP, ND-10400.1; and BPA, ND-1733 ng/L. Natural and synthetic estrogens E2, E3, and EE2 in samples were found in the ranges of ND-907.4, ND-749.5, and ND-226.0 ng/L, respectively. Analytical results show that with the exception of EE2 throughout the wetland system, target compounds were largely removed.

Concepts: Estrogen, Bisphenol A, Staining, PH indicator, Quinolone, Tetracycline antibiotics


The photocalytic degradation of dicloxacillin (DXC) using TiO2 was studied in synthetic and natural waters. The degradation route and the effect of different experimental variables such as pH, applied power, and the initial concentrations of DXC and the catalyst were investigated. The best performances were achieved at a natural pH 5.8 and using 2.0 g L(-1) of TiO2 with 150 W of applied power. The photodegradation process followed Langmuir-Hinshelwood kinetics. The water matrix effect was evaluated in terms of degradation efficiency in the presence of organic compounds (oxalic acid, glucose), Fe(2+) ion and natural water. An increase in degradation was observed when ferrous ion was part of the solution, but the process was inhibited with all evaluated organic compounds. Similarly, inhibition was observed when natural water was used instead of distilled water. The extent of degradation of the process was evaluated following the evolution of chemical oxygen demand (COD), antimicrobial activity (AA), total organic carbon (TOC) and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD5). Total removal of DXC was achieved after 120 min of treatment and 95% mineralization was observed after 480 min of treatment. Additionally, the total removal of antimicrobial activity and a high level of biodegradability were observed after the photocalytical system had been operating for 240 min.

Concepts: Oxygen, Water, Hydrogen, Chemistry, Water pollution, Water quality indicators, Chemical oxygen demand, Biochemical oxygen demand


Advanced wastewater treatment processes are applied to prevent the environmental dissemination of pathogenic microorganisms. Giardia lamblia causes a severe disease called giardiasis, and is highly prevalent in untreated wastewater worldwide. Monitoring the microbial quality of wastewater effluents is usually based on testing for the levels of indicator microorganisms in the effluents. This study was conducted to compare the suitability of fecal coliforms, F+ coliphages and sulfide reducing clostridia (SRC) as indicators for the reduction of Giardia cysts in two full-scale wastewater treatment plants. The treatment process consists of activated sludge, coagulation, high rate filtration and either chlorine or UV disinfection. The results of the study demonstrated that Giardia cysts are highly prevalent in raw wastewater at an average concentration of 3600 cysts/L. Fecal coliforms, F+ coliphages and SRC were also detected at high concentrations in raw wastewater. Giardia cysts were efficiently removed (3.6 log10) by the treatment train. The greatest reduction was observed for fecal coliforms (9.6 log10) whereas the least reduction was observed for F+ coliphages (2.1 log10) following chlorine disinfection. Similar reduction was observed for SRC by filtration and disinfection by either UV (3.6 log10) or chlorine (3.3 log10). Since F+ coliphage and SRC were found to be more resistant than fecal coliforms for the tertiary treatment processes, they may prove to be more suitable as indicators for Giardia. The results of this study demonstrated that advanced wastewater treatment may prove efficient for the removal of Giardia cysts and may prevent its transmission when treated effluents are applied for crop irrigation or streams restoration.

Concepts: Bacteria, Electrochemistry, Water pollution, Giardia lamblia, Sewage treatment, Industrial wastewater treatment, Denitrification, Environmental engineering


Perfluorinated surfactants and repellents are synthetic substances that have found numerous industrial and customer applications. Due to their persistence, at least two groups of these substances-perfluorinated carboxylic acids (PFCAs) and perfluorinated sulfonic acids (PFSAs)-are diffused widely in the environment. It is hypothesized that the Tibetan Plateau, is one of few unique places on the Earth, due to its topography, specifically the vast space and high elevation above sea level, geographic location, climate, high solar radiation, lack of industry, little urbanization and general lack of significant direct sources of pollution. There it is believed possible to gain an insight into atmospheric fate (possible photochemical degradation of higher molecular mass and formation of lower molecular mass PFCAs and PFSAs) of PFASs under un-disturbed environmental conditions. Ultratrace analytical method for PFCAs and PFSAs and use of transportation and field blanks, laboratory blanks and isotopically labelled surrogates for recovery control has allowed the determination of nine perfluorinated carboxylic acids and six perfluorinated sulfonic acids at ultra-trace levels in water based samples from the alpine dimension regions of the Tibetan Plateau, the eastern slope of Minya Konka peak at the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau, and also from the city of Chengdu from the lowland of the Sichuan Province in China. The specific compositional pattern of PFCAs and PFSAs and low levels of pollution with those compounds were observed in the central region of the Tibetan Plateau and in the region adjacent to the peaks of Minya Konka in the Eastern Tibetan Plateau. The fingerprint of the compositional pattern of PFCAs and PFSAs in water samples in the central region of the Tibetan Plateau and in the alpine region adjacent to the peaks of Minya Konka in the Eastern Tibetan Plateau may be explained by the result of photochemical degradation with dealkylation of longer chain compounds and formation of shorter chain compounds, which are more resistant to photochemical degradation.

Concepts: Water, Yunnan, Sichuan, Chengdu, Tibet Autonomous Region, Central Asia, Sulfonic acid, Organic acid


The physical-chemical stage of marginal filters in minor rivers of the White Sea catchment area by the example of the Umba River, flowing to Kandalaksha Gulf, has been explored. Application of the method of physical-chemical modeling on the basis of field data allowed establishing migration forms of a number of elements in the “river-sea” system and deposition of solid phases when mixing waters. The mixing of river and sea water is accompanied by the sedimentation of predominantly goethite, hydromuscovite, and hydroxylapatite. Sediments in mixing river and sea waters were found to be mainly composed by goethite, hydromuscovite, and hydroxylapatite. The research has added to the knowledge of the role of the abiotic part in the marginal filters of small rivers in the Arctic.

Concepts: Water, Sediment, Sedimentary rock, River, Red Sea, Sediment transport, White Sea, Kandalaksha Gulf


Distributions of a total of 21 elements were monitored in significantly lead-zinc polluted area using moss species (Hypnum cupressiforme and Camptothecium lutescens) used interchangeably, covering a denser sampling network. Interspecies comparison was conducted using Box-Cox transformed values, due to their skewed distribution. The median concentrations of trace elements in the both mosses examined decreased in the following order: Fe>Mn>Zn>Pb>Cu>Ni∼Cr∼As>Co>Cd>Hg. For almost all analyzed elements, H. cupressiforme revealed higher bio-accumulative abilities. For arsenic contents was obtained ER-value in favor of C. lutescens. The ER for the element contents according to the distance from the pollution source in selected areas was significantly enriched for the anthropogenic introduced elements As, Cd, Cu, Pb and Zn. After Box-Cox transformation of the content values, TB was significantly different for As (4.82), Cd (3.84), Cu (2.95), Pb (4.38), and Zn (4.23). Multivariate factor analysis singled out four elemental associations: F1 (Al-Co-Cr-Fe-Li-Ni-V), F2 (Cd-Pb-Zn), F3 (Ca-Mg-Na-P) and F4 (Cu) with a total variance of 89%. Spatial distribution visualized the hazardously higher contents of “hot spots” of Cd > 1.30 mg/kg, Cu > 22 mg/kg, Pb > 130 mg/kg and Zn > 160 mg/kg. Therefore, main approach in moss biomonitoring should be based on data management of the element distribution by reducing the effect of extreme values (considering Box-Cox data transformation); the interspecies variation in sampling media does not deviate in relation to H. cupressiforme vs. C. lutescens.

Concepts: Median, Chemical element, Mean, Normal distribution, Standard deviation, Skewness, Moss, Mosses


Directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing of shale gas and oil bring industrial activity into close proximity to residences, schools, daycare centers and places where people spend their time. Multiple gas production sources can be sited near residences. Health care providers evaluating patient health need to know the chemicals present, the emissions from different sites and the intensity and frequency of the exposures. This research describes a hypothetical case study designed to provide a basic model that demonstrates the direct effect of weather on exposure patterns of particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) and volatile organic chemicals (VOCs). Because emissions from unconventional natural gas development (UNGD) sites are variable, a short term exposure profile is proposed that determines 6-hour assessments of emissions estimates, a time scale needed to assist physicians in the evaluation of individual exposures. The hypothetical case is based on observed conditions in shale gas development in Washington County, Pennsylvania, and on estimated emissions from facilities during gas development and production. An air exposure screening model was applied to determine the ambient concentration of VOCs and PM2.5 at different 6-hour periods of the day and night. Hourly wind speed, wind direction and cloud cover data from Pittsburgh International Airport were used to calculate the expected exposures. Fourteen months of daily observations were modeled. Higher than yearly average source terms were used to predict health impacts at periods when emissions are high. The frequency and intensity of exposures to PM2.5 and VOCs at a residence surrounded by three UNGD facilities was determined. The findings show that peak PM2.5 and VOC exposures occurred 83 times over the course of 14 months of well development. Among the stages of well development, the drilling, flaring and finishing, and gas production stages produced higher intensity exposures than the hydraulic fracturing stage. Over one year, compressor station emissions created 118 peak exposure levels and a gas processing plant produced 99 peak exposures over one year. The screening model identified the periods during the day and the specific weather conditions when the highest potential exposures would occur. The periodicity of occurrence of extreme exposures is similar to the episodic nature of the health complaints reported in Washington County and in the literature. This study demonstrates the need to determine the aggregate quantitative impact on health when multiple facilities are placed near residences, schools, daycare centers and other locations where people are present. It shows that understanding the influence of air stability and wind direction is essential to exposure assessment at the residential level. The model can be applied to other emissions and similar sites. Profiles such as this will assist health providers in understanding the frequency and intensity of the human exposures when diagnosing and treating patients living near unconventional natural gas development.

Concepts: Health care, Scientific method, Health, Petroleum, Smog, Natural gas, Volatile organic compound, Wind


Public health concerns related to the expansion of unconventional oil and gas drilling have sparked intense debate. In 2012, we published case reports of animals and humans affected by nearby drilling operations. Because of the potential for long-term effects of even low doses of environmental toxicants and the cumulative impact of exposures of multiple chemicals by multiple routes of exposure, a longitudinal study of these cases is necessary. Twenty-one cases from five states were followed longitudinally; the follow-up period averaged 25 months. In addition to humans, cases involved food animals, companion animals and wildlife. More than half of all exposures were related to drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations; these decreased slightly over time. More than a third of all exposures were associated with wastewater, processing and production operations; these exposures increased slightly over time. Health impacts decreased for families and animals moving from intensively drilled areas or remaining in areas where drilling activity decreased. In cases of families remaining in the same area and for which drilling activity either remained the same or increased, no change in health impacts was observed. Over the course of the study, the distribution of symptoms was unchanged for humans and companion animals, but in food animals, reproductive problems decreased and both respiratory and growth problems increased. This longitudinal case study illustrates the importance of obtaining detailed epidemiological data on the long-term health effects of multiple chemical exposures and multiple routes of exposure that are characteristic of the environmental impacts of unconventional drilling operations.

Concepts: Public health, Health, Longitudinal study, Epidemiology, Human, Petroleum, Sociology, Case study


Reports of ground water contamination in a southwestern Pennsylvania community coincided with unconventional shale gas extraction activities that started late 2009. Residents participated in a survey and well water samples were collected and analyzed. Available pre-drill and post-drill water test results and legacy operations (e.g., gas and oil wells, coal mining) were reviewed. Fifty-six of the 143 respondents indicated changes in water quality or quantity while 63 respondents reported no issues. Color change (brown, black, or orange) was the most common (27 households). Well type, when known, was rotary or cable tool, and depths ranged from 19 to 274 m. Chloride, sulfate, nitrate, sodium, calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese and strontium were commonly found, with 25 households exceeding the secondary maximum contaminate level (SMCL) for manganese. Methane was detected in 14 of the 18 houses tested. The 26 wells tested for total coliforms (2 positives) and E. coli (1 positive) indicated that septic contamination was not a factor. Repeated sampling of two wells in close proximity (204 m) but drawing from different depths (32 m and 54 m), revealed temporal variability. Since 2009, 65 horizontal wells were drilled within a 4 km (2.5 mile) radius of the community, each well was stimulated on average with 3.5 million gal of fluids and 3.2 million lbs of proppant. PA DEP cited violations included an improperly plugged well and at least one failed well casing. This study underscores the need for thorough analyses of data, documentation of legacy activity, pre-drill testing, and long term monitoring.

Concepts: Water, Petroleum, Water pollution, Groundwater, Natural gas, Water quality, Water well, Shale gas


Antibiotics have been intensively used over the last decades in human and animal therapy and livestock, resulting in serious environmental and public health problems, namely due to the antibiotic residues concentration in wastewaters and to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This study aimed to access the contribution of some anthropological activities, namely urban household, hospital and a wastewater treatment plant, to the spread of antibiotic resistances in the treated wastewater released into the Mondego River, Coimbra, Portugal. Six sampling sites were selected in the wastewater network and in the river. The ampicillin-resistant Enterobacteriaceae of the water samples were enumerated, isolated and phenotypically characterized in relation to their resistance profile to 13 antibiotics. Some isolates were identified into species level and investigated for the presence of class A and class C -lactamases. Results revealed high frequency of resistance to the -lactam group, cefoxitin (53.5%), amoxicillin/clavulanic acid combination (43.5%), cefotaxime (22.7%), aztreonam (21.3) cefpirome (19.2%), ceftazidime (16.2%) and to the non–lactam group, trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazol (21.1%), tetracycline (18.2%), followed by ciprofloxacin (14.1%). The hospital effluent showed the higher rates of resistance to all antibiotic, except two (chloramphenicol and gentamicin). Similarly, higher resistance rates were detected in the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluent compared with the untreated affluent. Regarding the multidrug resistance, the highest incidence was recorded in the hospital sewage and the lowest in the urban waste. The majority of the isolates altogether are potentially extended-spectrum -lactamases positive (ESBL(+)) (51.9%), followed by AmpC(+) (44.4%) and ESBL(+)/AmpC(+) (35.2%). The most prevalent genes among the potential ESBL producers were blaOXA (33.3%), blaTEM (24.1%) and blaCTX-M (5.6%) and among the AmpC producers were blaEBC (38.9%), blaFOX (1.9%) and blaCIT (1.9%). In conclusion, the hospital and the WWTP activities revealed to have the highest contribution to the spread of multidrug resistant bacteria in the study area. Such data is important for future management of the environmental and public health risk of these contaminants. This is the first embracing study in the water network of Coimbra region on the dissemination of antibiotic resistance determinants. Moreover, it is also the first report with the simultaneous detection of multiresistant bacteria producers of AmpC and ESBLs -lactamases in aquatic systems in Portugal.

Concepts: Bacteria, Antibiotic resistance, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Sewage treatment, Microorganism, Penicillin, Antibiotics