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This is the first study of broad range of chemical classes CECs conducted in the upper Wisla river catchment including the biggest WWTPs in this region and surface waters. The list of compounds is extensive and the paper provides, for the first time, better understanding of environmental burden from PCPCs in Poland. Cumulative contribution of hypertension pharmaceuticals, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and lifestyle chemicals was 89% and 95% in wastewater influent, and 75% in wastewater effluent at both WWTPs. Significant removal efficiencies, exceeding 90%, were found for parabens, UV filters, NSAIDs, steroid estrogens, plasticizers, antibacterials/antibiotics, stimulants and metabolites and lifestyle chemicals. The comparison of the average mass loads of CECs between the influent and effluent, has shown that 27% and 29% of all detected CECs were removed by less than 50%. An increase of concentrations of CECs in the effluent was observed for 18% and 20% of all detected CECs in Kujawy and Plaszow WWTPs, respectively. Negative mass balances of fexofenadine, venlafaxine, o-desmethyltramadol, ketamine and temazepam were noted within WWTPs, which are a result of dissolution of persistent contaminants accumulated in aggregates and/or back-transformation or de-conjugation of metabolites into parent compounds. 44 CECs were detected in surface waters located upstream and downstream of the WWTPs. The concentrations of compounds were largely dependent on the dilution factor of WWTP discharge. The risk quotation (RQ) values for compounds present in surface waters were calculated in relation to their potential for bioaccumulation. Among compounds with high potential for bioaccumulation, with log KOW ≥ 4.5, diclofenac, atorvastatin and triclosan were found to be of high risk. Many CECs with high, moderate or even low environmental impact have shown high potential for bioaccumulation and should be considered as priority at the same risk level. Moreover, possible synergistic action is still of concern.
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