Seasonal variation of pharmaceutical concentrations in a river/lake system in Eastern Finland†
In this study, the concentrations of 15 pharmaceuticals were monitored during four seasons (February, May, July, and November 2010) along a 32 km stretch of a highly wastewater polluted watercourse (River Rakkolanjoki, Lake Haapajärvi) in Eastern Finland. The aim was to study the seasonal variation in the elimination of the pharmaceuticals and the stability of the compounds along the watercourse. The analysis was carried out using a liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) method combined with extraction and preconcentration on HLB solid phase extraction (SPE) cartridges. Pharmaceutical concentrations were determined at 9 points along the watercourse, and loads and removal of parent compounds were calculated using flow data from the discharge point and the last sampling point. The pharmaceuticals were found in concentrations ranging from low ng l−1 to low μg l−1 values at the discharge point and at concentrations of 0–556 ng l−1 at the last sampling point. The rate of elimination of the pharmaceutical load was significantly higher in May and July than in February and November. There were clear differences in the stability of the individual compounds along the watercourse. Carbamazepine was not eliminated during any season, while ibuprofen, ketoprofen and sertraline were fully eliminated over the studied stretch of river during the summer months. Other compounds showed continuous elimination independent of the season, indicating different elimination paths, such as sorption, biodegradation and phototransformation, for the studied compounds.