Water Quality Research Journal of Canada

Vol. 42 (4): 231 - 239 (2007). General issue

Pharmaceuticals in the Yamaska River, Quebec, Canada

   Viviane Yargeau, Antonina Lopata, Chris Metcalfe

Abstract
Pharmaceutically active compounds have been detected in North America and Europe in groundwater, surface water, wastewater, and drinking water. In the province of Quebec in Canada, there has been little data to assess the occurrence of pharmaceutical residues in the aquatic environment. In August of 2005, samples of surface water were collected at 10 sites along the Yamaska River basin in Quebec, which passes through important agricultural areas and receives wastewater from several urban centers with populations ranging up to 44,000 residents. Several acidic drugs (naproxen, ibuprofen, gemfi brozil), neutral drugs (caffeine, carbamazepine, cotinine), and the sulfonamide antibiotic sulfamethoxazole were detected in the majority of the surface water samples. The antidepressant fl uoxetine (neutral/basic drug) was not detected in any samples, while acetaminophen (acidic drug) was detected at only two sites, and sulfapyridine (sulfonamide antibiotic) was detected at only one site. Sulfamethoxazole and carbamazepine were present at the highest maximum concentrations of 578 ng/L and 106 ng/L, respectively. The concentrations of most of the target pharmaceutically active compounds observed in surface water samples within the watershed were generally consistent with the number of people in urban centers near the sampling sites when compared with other studies in urban watersheds. However, carbamazepine, naproxen, and sulfamethoxazole were present at surprisingly high concentrations for some of the low density areas. Overall, these results demonstrate that pharmaceuticals are distributed in surface waters within a watershed in Quebec at concentrations similar to levels observed in previous studies done in other parts of North America.

Keywords
acidic drugs, neutral drugs, pharmaceuticals, sulfonamide, surface water

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