Special Issue "Pharmaceutic Compounds, as Emerging Organic Contaminants, and Their Occurrence and Transport in Groundwater: Sources, Reactions and Fate"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Water Quality and Ecosystems".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 May 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Josep Mas-Pla
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Guest Editor
Catalan Institute for Water Research, Girona, Spain and University of Girona, Girona, Spain
Interests: hydrogeology; groundwater pollution; water management
Prof. Corinne Le Gal La Salle
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
University of Nîmes, EA 7352 CHROME, rue du Dr. Georges Salan, 30021 Nîmes, France
Interests: groundwater; hydrochemistry; geochemical modeling
Prof. Christine Stumpp
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria
Interests: hydrogeology; geochemistry; isotopes; modeling

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Emerging Organic Contaminants (EOCs), also presently named Contaminants of Emerging Concern, constitute an issue of major interest from a management perspective as they have recently shown up on the environmental scene without warning. From a scientific point of view, their occurrence in groundwater has not yet been considered to the necessary detail to build up a conceptual body of knowledge that allows researchers and stakeholders make appropriate decisions about the risks they represent to human and environmental health. Among them, pharmaceutic compounds (PhCs), including antibiotics, are a hazard due to their occurrence in groundwater, as well as for their effects on the subsurface microbial resistome.

Despite wastewater treatment efforts to eliminate PhCs, they are increasingly common in surface water and, consequently, they reach the subsurface through recharge. Moreover, veterinary products also reach soils and aquifers through manure and slurry fertilization. Both processes are responsible for a broad input of these products to the subsurface, causing an immediate threat to groundwater resources quality status.

Nevertheless, PhC fate within the aquifers have seldom been traced at the field scale. However, measuring them at very low concentrations is presently feasible, understanding the mechanisms and processes that govern their transport is still a challenge. Laboratory experiments devoted to define their sorption and degradation parameters offer a wide range of values for the same compound under distinct environmental settings. Field hydrogeological heterogeneity, as usual, hinders the monitoring of their migration through the soil layer and, finally, within the aquifer. Up to the present, very little research has been published describing PhC fates in groundwater, so there is no broad range of study cases to be used as references. Moreover, additional work is needed to integrate the physico-chemical behaviors of PhCs complex molecular structure into transport models that can truly be used to model their migration in groundwater.

In this Special Issue, we look forward editing a group of significant papers that provide a rigorous insight to the stated problems: the regional occurrence of PhCs in groundwater, the characterization of the PhCs input sources and their effects, the details on the transport processes and, especially, on their physico-chemical behavior concerning sorption and degradation parameters and mechanisms that would eventually allow simulating their fate in the subsurface. Finally, papers dealing on how to efficiently characterize the groundwater chemical status associated to these emerging pollutants at a regional level will contribute to translate hydrogeological knowledge to stakeholders and managers. Contributions that provide a comprehensive, integrated perspective of many of the mentioned issues are especially welcome.

Prof. Josep Mas-Pla
Prof. Corinne Le Gal La Salle
Prof. Christine Stumpp
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Water is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • groundwater
  • emerging contaminants
  • pharmaceutical compounds
  • antibiotics
  • reactive transport
  • modeling
  • water resources management

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessArticle
Assessing the Influence of Environmental Factors on Groundwater Antibiotic Occurrence by Means of Variation Partitioning
Water 2019, 11(7), 1495; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11071495 - 18 Jul 2019
The spatial distribution of antibiotics in alluvial aquifers presents a large variability caused by the joint action of several factors including hydrology, land use, and groundwater properties. In this study, the influences of these factors on the spatial variability of antibiotics is evaluated [...] Read more.
The spatial distribution of antibiotics in alluvial aquifers presents a large variability caused by the joint action of several factors including hydrology, land use, and groundwater properties. In this study, the influences of these factors on the spatial variability of antibiotics is evaluated based on an extensive database of 47 wells located in the Baix Fluvià alluvial aquifer (NE Catalonia). Statistical methods such as redundancy and variation partitioning (VP) analyses, which are not commonly used in hydrogeological studies, are herein tested and used to estimate the effects of environmental factors on the observed antibiotic occurrence. Using VP, the total explained variation of the antibiotic distribution only reaches 18% of the total variability, meaning that the whole set of explanatory parameters is insufficient or inadequate to describe the occurrence of antibiotics and their concentration. The results point out that groundwater properties are the most representative parameters, while those related to antibiotic sources and aquifer susceptibility have lower influences. Omitting solute transport parameters that actually govern antibiotic fate (i.e., sorption coefficients and degradation rates) from the statistical analysis limited the success of the VP results. VP thus highlights the importance of researching antibiotic transport in groundwater by determining the reactive properties of these pollutants above other hydrogeochemical variables. We conclude that the present capacity to predict antibiotic existence at a specific location—for instance, a supply well—based on field data is still poor and unrepresentative, being an impediment for groundwater pollution management. Full article
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