Irrigation of root vegetables with treated wastewater: Evaluating uptake of pharmaceuticals and the associated human health risks

  • Malchi T
  • Maor Y
  • Tadmor G
 et al. 
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Abstract

To meet mounting water demands, treated wastewater has become an important source of irrigation. Thus, contamination of treated wastewater by pharmaceutical compounds (PCs) and the fate of these compounds in the agricultural environment are of increasing concern. This field study aimed to quantify PC uptake by treated wastewater-irrigated root crops (carrots and sweet potatoes) grown in lysimeters and to evaluate potential risks. In both crops, the nonionic PCs (carbamazepine, caffeine, and lamotrigine) were detected at significantly higher concentrations than ionic PCs (metoprolol, bezafibrate, clofibric acid, diclofenac, gemfibrozil, ibuprofen, ketoprofen, naproxen, sulfamethoxazole, and sildenafil). PCs in leaves were found at higher concentrations than in the roots. Carbamazepine metabolites were found mainly in the leaves, where the concentration of the metabolite 10,11-epoxycarbamazepine was significantly higher than the parent compound. The health risk associated with consumption of wastewater-irrigated root vegetables was estimated using the threshold of toxicological concern (TTC) approach. Our data show that the TTC value of lamotrigine can be reached for a child at a daily consumption of half a carrot ( approximately 60 g). This study highlights that certain PCs accumulated in edible organs at concentrations above the TTC value should be categorized as contaminants of emerging concern.

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