A leaky pipe in Baltimore County is taking medicine in the Chesapeake Bay

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Water sampling in the Gwinds Falls stream. Source: Benjamin Glass-Siegel / Baltimore Ecosystem Study

In Baltimore, Maryland, leaking sewage infrastructure brings tens of thousands of medicines to Chesapeake Bay every year. So I’ll be reporting on a new study, Environmental Science and Technology, which has been monitoring the city’s river network for a year. The detected drug concentrations were persistent, variable and occurred at ecologically appropriate levels.

Pharmaceutical contamination of freshwater is a global problem that is poorly quantified. Mixing drugs in lakes, rivers, and streams can disrupt animal biology and behavior, algae growth, and other ecological processes, leading to deleterious cascade effects.

Megan Fork, postdoctoral fellow at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and lead author, said: And the broken sewage infrastructure that is common in many older cities. “

Water samples were taken weekly for a year from six locations in the Gwynns Falls basin in Baltimore. “Since the stream at Gwinds Falls does not receive any sewage, we could only estimate the annual exposure to medication contamination from leaky pipes,” explains Fork. The area represents a development gradient, from suburbs to very urban ones. The team also sampled a wooded reference site northwest of the Gwynns Falls basin.

The samples were tested for 92 pharmaceutical compounds. 37 unique connections proven at 7 research locations. The most common antibiotic was trimethoprim. The highest levels of medication were found where Gwin’s Falls meets Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The pain reliever paracetamol was the most common. Drug concentrations were high in densely populated areas.

To estimate the amount of pharmaceutical compound that the leak pipe delivers into the basin each year (annual “load”), the team paired the following data: Drug concentration At the exit of Gwin’s Falls, the river flow was recorded by the USGS monitoring station at the station . The annual exposure was calculated for 9 classes of active substances.

Result: Leaking pipes in Gwins Falls Basin deliver tens of thousands of pharmaceutical compounds into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. This includes 30,000 doses of antidepressants for adults, 1,700 doses of antibiotics and about 30,000 tablets of paracetamol. Concentrations are related to the environment (values ​​that can influence biological behavior, biology and other ecological processes), are very variable and aquatic organisms are exposed to a constantly changing mixture of compounds. Increase.

The Gabel explains: “It is important to determine exposure to pollutants such as drugs, as low concentrations can lead regulators and managers to misunderstand them as unimportant. River-dwelling bacteria are widespread in Baltimore. We have already confirmed that we are resistant to various antibiotics, which suggests that they are less chronic. Exposure can have a significant impact on the lifespan of rivers. “

Next, the team calculated the “mass balance” of the annual basins of the eight drug classes. The aim is to elucidate the pathways through which pharmaceutical compounds consumed in the Gwynns Falls basin enter the environment and how these pathways differ between the compounds.

The mass balance calculations include the volume of wastewater per capita, the amount of drug consumed (estimated using national prescription data, scaled to the population of the Gywnns Falls Basin), and the concentration of the drug in the sewage. Data on the proportion of drugs metabolized were taken into account. The percentage released into the body, the amount of chemical contaminants removed by the wastewater treatment, the amount leaked and the amount that is released into the environment through the wastewater of the purified sewage system.

The Gwins Falls Basin does not receive wastewater from treatment plants, but the wastewater generated in the Gwins Falls Basin is sent to nearby basins for treatment. After treatment, this wastewater is discharged into the Chesapeake Bay. This discharged wastewater was taken into account in the mass balance calculation.

Emma Rossi, senior co-author and aquatic ecologist at the Cary Institute, explains: Catchment areas and sewers are the main sources of antibiotics, but pain relievers are more likely to get into the environment through leaky infrastructure. This type of information is important in assessing the effects associated with biological exposure to various compounds. “

To reduce the release of drugs into freshwater, investment by the local government in repairing and upgrading old and damaged wastewater infrastructure is required. Wastewater A treatment plant to remove these pollutants more effectively. By quantifying annual exposure to freshwater medicinal products and identifying routes into the environment, we can guide regulations and provide indicators for assessing future efforts to reduce pollution.

Rosi said, “Almost 1% of the raw sewage from the Gwynns Falls basin flows into the environment through leaking infrastructure. If we extrapolate the calculation over the Chesapeake Bay, Basin, we estimate that approximately 11.7 billion liters of raw sewage can leak into the bay each year. It contains a wide variety of drugs that can affect you. Aquatic organisms It disrupts ecosystem processes. “

Fork concludes, “Our results underscore the ubiquity of drugs in freshwater areas and the need to study and explain all pollution routes, not just the following obvious routes: sewage treatment, plant drainage. “

This research is a contribution to Baltimore Ecosystem Research, a long-term ecosystem research facility funded by the National Science Foundation. The Gwinds Falls study area has been monitored for water pollution for over 20 years. These data contribute to the growing number of studies examining new environmental pollutants.

Environmental effects of amphetamine pollution on urban streams

For more informations:
Coastal dosing: Leakage in wastewater infrastructure supplies urban rivers with large annual doses and a dynamic mix of two drugs. Environmental Science and Technology (2021). pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.1c00379

Provided by
Cary Ecosystem Institute

Quote: Coastal Drugs: Baltimore County Leak Tube, Chesapeake obtained from https://phys.org/news/2021-08-dosing-coast-baltimore-county-leaky.html on August 18, 2021 Administering the drug to the bay (August 18.02. 2021)

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