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 "Aquatic Systems—Quality and Contamination".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. 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. Dr. Corinne Le Gal La Salle
Website
Guest Editor
University of Nîmes, EA 7352 CHROME, rue du Dr. Georges Salan, 30021 Nîmes, France
Interests: groundwater; hydrochemistry; geochemical modeling
Prof. Dr. Christine Stumpp
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. Dr. Josep Mas-Pla
Prof. Dr. Corinne Le Gal La Salle
Prof. Dr. Christine Stumpp
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 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.

Keywords

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

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Identification of Aquifer Recharge Sources as the Origin of Emerging Contaminants in Intensive Agricultural Areas. La Plana de Castellón, Spain
Water 2020, 12(3), 731; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12030731 - 06 Mar 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
In urban, industrial, and agricultural areas, a vast array of contaminants may be found because they are introduced into the aquifers by different recharge sources. The emerging contaminants (ECs) correspond to unregulated contaminants, which may be candidates for future regulation depending on the [...] Read more.
In urban, industrial, and agricultural areas, a vast array of contaminants may be found because they are introduced into the aquifers by different recharge sources. The emerging contaminants (ECs) correspond to unregulated contaminants, which may be candidates for future regulation depending on the results of research into their potential effects on health and on monitoring data regarding their occurrence. ECs frequently found in wastewater, such as acetaminophen, carbamazepine, primidone, and sulfamethoxazole, may be good indicators of the introduction of the reclaimed water to the aquifers. The resistance of the ECs to removal in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) causes them to be appropriate sewage markers. Plana de Castellón (Spain) is a coastal area that has been characterized by intensive citrus agriculture since the 1970s. Traditionally, in the southern sector of Plana de Castellón, 100% of irrigation water comes from groundwater. In recent years, local farmers have been using a mixture of groundwater and reclaimed water from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) to irrigate the citrus. The aims of the present study were: (i) to assess the occurrences, spatial distributions, and concentrations of selected ECs, including 32 antibiotics, 8 UV filters, and 2 nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, in groundwater in a common agricultural context; (ii) to identify the recharge (pollution) sources acting as the origin of the ECs, and (iii) to suggest ECs as indicators of reclaimed water arrival in detrital heterogeneous aquifers. The obtained data provided relevant information for the management of water resources and elucidated the fate and behavior of emerging contaminants in similar contexts. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Column Experiments on Sorption Coefficients and Biodegradation Rates of Selected Pharmaceuticals in Three Aquifer Sediments
Water 2020, 12(1), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12010014 - 19 Dec 2019
Abstract
The presence of pharmaceuticals in the environment, and in groundwater, has been recognized as a great environmental concern. Biodegradation and sorption are the main processes leading to the removal of contamination from the water phase. The aim of this study was to determine [...] Read more.
The presence of pharmaceuticals in the environment, and in groundwater, has been recognized as a great environmental concern. Biodegradation and sorption are the main processes leading to the removal of contamination from the water phase. The aim of this study was to determine the transport processes of selected pharmaceuticals (antipyrine, atenolol, carbamazepine, caffeine, diclofenac, ketoprofen, sulfamethoxazole) in selected sediments (coarse sand, medium sand, sandy loam) in laboratory experiments. Moreover, the impact of flow velocities on the sorption and degradation rates of the selected compounds was studied. Column experiments were performed at three flow velocities, under abiotic and biotic conditions, applying conservative (bromide) and reactive tracers (pharmaceuticals). From the breakthrough curves, retardation factors and degradation rates were determined and the influence of variable flow conditions on transport parameters was evaluated. Low observed concentrations and recoveries of atenolol indicated a strong influence of sorption on its transport. Diclofenac, caffeine, and carbamazepine were also affected by sorption but to a lesser extent. Sulfamethoxazole, ketoprofen, and antipyrine were recovered nearly completely, indicating an almost conservative transport behavior. Biodegradation was small for all the compounds, as the results from biotic and abiotic column experiments were similar. Transport of the tested pharmaceuticals was not influenced by different flow velocities, as similar modelled degradation rates and retardation factors were found for all tested flow velocities. Full article
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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
Cited by 1
Abstract
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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