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  • 1.
    Gao, Qiuju
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Chemistry.
    Blum, Kristin M.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Chemistry.
    Gago-Ferrero, Pablo
    Wiberg, Karin
    Ahrens, Lutz
    Andersson, Patrik L.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Chemistry.
    Impact of on-site wastewater infiltration systems on organic contaminants in groundwater and recipient waters2019In: Science of the Total Environment, ISSN 0048-9697, E-ISSN 1879-1026, Vol. 651, p. 1670-1679Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    On-site sewage treatment facilities, particularly septic systems combined with soil infiltration, can be an important source of emerging organic contaminants in groundwater and surface water and thus represent a significant source of environmental and human exposure. Two infiltration systems in Åre municipality, Sweden, were examined to assess the occurrence of contaminants in groundwater and their fate and transport during infiltration. Groundwater samples, recipient surface water samples, and wastewater samples from septic tanks were collected from 2016 to 2017 covering all climatological seasons. These samples were analysed for a total of 103 contaminants, including pharmaceuticals, personal care products, organic phosphorus flame-retardants, plasticisers, perfluoroalkyl substances, and food additives. Fourteen of 103 contaminants showed 100% detection frequency in groundwater at concentrations in the low ng L−1 to low μg L−1 range. Of the compounds analysed, tris(2‑butoxyethyl) phosphate, sucralose, caffeine, and benzophenone showed high abundancy with maximum concentrations in the μg L−1 range. The data were normalised for dilution using chloride and sucralose as commonly applied tracers; however, the level of sucralose decreased significantly during infiltration and it is thus suboptimal as a sewage water tracer. Large differences between the two infiltration sites were observed in detection frequencies and concentrations in groundwater, which could be attributed to the system design and the contaminant's migration time from release to sampling point. Seasonal variation was observed for selected chemicals, and the more hydrophobic chemicals showed a higher tendency for attenuation, indicating sorption as a major retention mechanism. A moderate environmental risk to aquatic organisms was estimated in adjacent surface water for galaxolide, tris(1‑chloro‑2‑propyl) phosphate, and tris(2‑butoxyethyl) phosphate. Due to this site-dependency and potential environmental risks, further studies are needed on infiltration systems in different settings and on alternative treatment techniques to reduce the contaminant discharge from on-site sewage treatment facilities.

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