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Using emerging contaminants to trace rapid recharge pathways in urban groundwater: an example from Kabwe, Zambia

Lapworth, Dan; Sorensen, James; Nkhuwa, Daniel. 2015 Using emerging contaminants to trace rapid recharge pathways in urban groundwater: an example from Kabwe, Zambia. [Lecture] In: 42nd IAH Congress, Rome, Italy, 14-18 Sept 2015. (Unpublished)

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Abstract/Summary

We explore the occurrence of emerging organic contaminants in groundwater beneath a medium-sized African town reputed to be one of the ten most contaminated places on Earth. The results represent the first investigation of many emerging contaminants anywhere within the African environment. Samples were obtained from shallow wells and deeper boreholes across peri-urban, lower and higher cost residential areas, and industrial land uses during both the dry and wet season. They were analyzed using a broad screen GC-MS method which can target over 1000 organic compounds. The insect repellent DEET was ubiquitous, with other compounds detected in less than 15% of the sources, including the bactericide triclosan, chlorination by-products and surfactants. Emerging contaminants were most prevalent in shallow wells in low cost residential areas, which were inadequately protected at the surface. Seasonal changes in DEET highlighted the aquifer is more vulnerable than previously considered and the utility of the compound as an urban wastewater tracer. There was a general absence of personal care products, life-style compounds, and pharmaceuticals which are commonly detected in the aquatic environment in the developed world. This perhaps reflects some degree of attenuation within the subsurface, but could also be a result of the current limited use of products containing emerging contaminants by locals due to unaffordability and unavailability.

Item Type: Publication - Conference Item (Lecture)
Additional Keywords: Groundwater BGS, Groundwater, Environmental tracers, Groundwater protection, International development
Date made live: 26 Nov 2015 15:34 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/512302

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