Concern about the presence of chiral pharmaceuticals in the environment from wastewater discharge is mounting. In this work, the occurrence and fate of atenolol, metoprolol, venlafaxine, and chloramphenicol, including 10 different stereoisomers, were investigated in sewage and sludge from diverse treatment processes in 4 sewage treatment plants (STPs) in Hong Kong via 4 sampling campaigns over a period of 2 years. The average amounts of individual pharmaceuticals entering the STPs ranged from 4.91 g/d to 6,290 g/d, with sludge carrying much lower amounts than the discharged effluent. Mass balance analysis revealed that: larger quantities of these pharmaceuticals were released during the dry seasons, biodegradation was the primary removal mechanism for atenolol and chloramphenicol, and the removal via primary sedimentation and disinfection processes was insignificant (<30%). Selectivity toward R-(+)-atenolol, S-(–)-metoprolol, and R-(–)-venlafaxine was mostly found across secondary-treated effluent samples. Sold as an enantiopure pharmaceutical in R,R-para-form, chloramphenicol was preferentially eliminated after biological process. This is the first study on the occurrence of chloramphenicol enantiomers in the aquatic environment. Ecotoxicological assessment indicated that atenolol and metoprolol could pose risks to marine fish in effluent-receiving waters (i.e., the western waters and Victoria Harbor) of Hong Kong, while R-(+)-atenolol could pose a risk to protozoans five times higher than the S-(–)-enantiomer. Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
CitationRuan, Y., Wu, R., Lam, J. C. W., Zhang, K., & Lam, P. K. S. (2019). Seasonal occurrence and fate of chiral pharmaceuticals in different sewage treatment systems in Hong Kong: Mass balance, enantiomeric profiling, and risk assessment. Water Research, 149, 607-616. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2018.11.010
- Mass balance
- Risk assessment