Field Studies on the Fate and Transport of Pharmaceutical Residues in Bank Filtration

Bank filtration and artificial ground water recharge are important, effective, and cheap techniques for surface water treatment and removal of microbes, as well as inorganic, and some organic, contaminants. Nevertheless, physical, chemical, and biological processes of the removal of impurities are not understood sufficiently. A research project titled Natural and Artificial Systems for Recharge and Infiltration attempts to provide more clarity in the processes affecting the removal of these contaminants. The project focuses on the fate and transport of selected emerging contaminants during bank filtration at two transects in Berlin, Germany. Several detections of pharmaceutically active compounds (PhACs) in ground water samples from bank filtration sites in Germany led to furthering research on the removal of these compounds during bank filtration. In this study, six PhACs including the analgesic drugs diclofenac and propyphenazone, the antiepileptic drugs carbamazepine and primidone, and the drug metabolites clofibric acid and 1-acetyl–1-methyl–2-dimethyloxamoyl– 2-phenylhydrazide were found to leach from the contaminated streams and lakes into the ground water. These compounds were also detected at low concentrations in receiving public supply wells. Bank filtration either decreased the concentrations by dilution (e.g., for carbamazepine and primidone) and partial removal (e.g., for diclofenac), or totally removed PhACs (e.g., bezafibrate, indomethacine, antibiotics, and estrogens). Several PhACs, such as carbamazepine and especially primidone, were readily transported during bank filtration. They are thought to be good indicators for evaluating whether surface water is impacted by contamination from municipal sewage effluent or whether contamination associated with sewage effluent can be transported into ground water at ground water recharge sites.

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