Geospatial and co-occurrence analysis of antibiotics, hormones, and UV filters in the Chesapeake Bay (USA) to confirm inputs from wastewater treatment plants, septic systems, and animal feeding operations





Citation of Original Publication

Hain, Ethan, Ke He, Jahir A. Batista-Andrade, Anna Feerick, Mitchell Tarnowski, Anne Timm, and Lee Blaney. “Geospatial and Co-Occurrence Analysis of Antibiotics, Hormones, and UV Filters in the Chesapeake Bay (USA) to Confirm Inputs from Wastewater Treatment Plants, Septic Systems, and Animal Feeding Operations.” Journal of Hazardous Materials 460 (October 15, 2023): 132405.


This work was written as part of one of the author's official duties as an Employee of the United States Government and is therefore a work of the United States Government. In accordance with 17 U.S.C. 105, no copyright protection is available for such works under U.S. Law.
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Previous studies have reported select contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) in limited areas of the Chesapeake Bay (USA), but no comprehensive efforts have been conducted. In this work, 43 antibiotics, 9 hormones, 11 UV filters, and sucralose, were measured in matched water, sediment, and oyster samples from 58 sites. The highest sucralose concentration was 3051 ng L⁻¹ in a subwatershed with 4.43 million liters of wastewater effluent per day (MLD) and 4385 septic systems. Although antibiotic occurrence was generally low in subwatersheds located in less populated areas, 102 ng L⁻¹ ciprofloxacin was detected downstream of 0.58 MLD wastewater effluent and 10 animal feeding operations. Hormones were not regularly detected in water (2%) or oysters (37%), but the high detection frequencies in sediment (74%) were associated with septic systems. UV filters were ubiquitously detected in oysters, and octisalate exhibited the highest concentration (423 ng g⁻¹). Oyster-phase oxybenzone and aqueous-phase sucralose concentrations were significantly correlated to wastewater effluent and septic systems, respectively. Toxicity outcomes were predicted for homosalate and octisalate throughout the Bay, and antimicrobial resistance concerns were noted for the Chester River. The geospatial and co-occurrence relationships constitute crucial advances to understanding CEC occurrence in the Chesapeake Bay and elsewhere.