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River biofilm community changes related to pharmaceutical loads emitted by a wastewater treatment plant

Abstract : Wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) are the main sources of a broad spectrum of pharmaceuticals found in freshwater ecosystems. These pollutants raise environmental health concerns because of their highly bioactive nature and their chronic releases. Despite this, pharmaceuticals' effects on aquatic environments are poorly defined. Biofilms represent a major part of the microbial life in rivers and streams. They can drive key metabolic cycles and their organizations reflect exposures to changing chemical, physical, and biological constraints. This study estimated the concentrations, over a 3-year period, of ten pharmaceuticals and five nutrients in a river contaminated by a conventional WWTP fed by urban and hospital wastewaters. Variations in these concentrations were related to biofilm bacterial community dynamics. Rock biofilms had developed over defined periods and were harvested at four locations in the river from the up- and downstream WWTP discharge point. Pharmaceuticals were found in all locations in concentrations ranging from not being detected to 192 ng L-1. Despite the high dilution factor of the WWTP effluents by the receiving river, pharmaceuticals were found more concentrated downstream than upstream the WWTP. Shifts in bacterial community structures linked to the environmental emission of pharmaceuticals were superior to seasonal community changes. A community structure from a site located downstream but close to the WWTP was more strongly associated with high pharmaceutical loads and different from those of biofilm samples from the WWTP upstream or far downstream sites. These latter sites were more strongly associated with high nutrient contents. Low environmental concentrations of pharmaceuticals can thus be transferred from WWTP effluents to a connected stream and induce bacterial aquatic community changes over time.
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Contributor : Agnès Bussy <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, August 22, 2018 - 9:34:49 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, July 8, 2020 - 12:43:54 PM



Teofana Chonova, Jérôme Labanowski, Benoit Cournoyer, Cècile Chardon, François Keck, et al.. River biofilm community changes related to pharmaceutical loads emitted by a wastewater treatment plant. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, Springer Verlag, 2018, 25 (10), pp.9254-9264. ⟨10.1007/s11356-017-0024-0⟩. ⟨hal-01859406⟩



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