Pharmaceutical and personal care product (PPCP) profiling in a South African urban surface water setting: Using a multi-faceted approach towards investigating emerging health challenges

Edward Archer, Elizabeth Holton, Barbara Kasprzyk-Hordern, James Fidal, Thomas Kjeldsen, Gideon Wolfaardt

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Rapid urbanisation and population growth in low- and middle-income Countries
(LMICs) are associated with various socio-economic challenges that limits
sustainable development, along with poor infrastructure, water and sanitation
service delivery that leads to the slumming of peri-urban communities. Such
challenges not only impact the well-being of the natural environment, but also
public health challenges such as heightened spread and development of
(non)communicable disease. The presentation will discuss spaciotemporal
changes of various chemical biomarkers over a two-year sampling period in a
South African urban environment, including: 1) change in chemical biomarker
levels along surface waters in the urban setting, 2) evaluating wastewater
treatment performance, 3) per capita pharmaceutical- and drug use profiles, and 4)
identifying chemical burdened ‘hotspots’ in a LMIC urban setting. Aqueous
samples from seven river locations and wastewater treatment works (WWTW)
influent and effluent located near the town of Stellenbosch (South Africa) were
sampled every second month for seven days between May 2018 and May 2019.
Sample collection and processing was done as described by previous work in our
groups (Petrie et al., 2016; Archer et al., 2017). Target analyte acquisition using
ultraperformance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (UPLCMS/
MS) was achieved using a previously developed method for the quantification
of 90 pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs; Petrie et al., 2016).
Flow-proportional mass loading (g/day) of the PPCPs were determined by
obtaining daily flow rates (ML/day) from the WWTW operator and using a
URMOD rainfall-runoff model for mass load estimations of the environmental
sampling locations. Although the WWTW showed adequate removal of most of
the target analytes, some recalcitrant pharmaceuticals were still shown to be
discharged. Moreover, various chemical biomarkers such as lifestyle chemicals,
illicit drugs, antiretrovirals and antibiotics were regularly detected in the low μg/L
level at a heavily contaminated river system in the area, confirming that human waste from the adjacent communities are being discharged directly into the natural environment and not directed towards the urban sewage infrastructure. This provides more evidence for the need of applying the UWP approach to provide additional per capita loadings of urban communities that are not necessarily connected to the larger urban infrastructure.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2020
EventSETAC Europe 30th Annual Meeting - Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 3 May 20207 May 2020


ConferenceSETAC Europe 30th Annual Meeting


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