Fingerprinting groundwater pollution in catchments with contrasting contaminant sources using microorganic compounds

Stuart, Marianne E.; Lapworth, Dan J. ORCID:; Thomas, Jenny; Edwards, Laura. 2013 Fingerprinting groundwater pollution in catchments with contrasting contaminant sources using microorganic compounds. Science of the Total Environment, 468-469. 564-577.

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Evaluating the occurrence of microorganics helps to understand sources and processes which may be controlling the transport and fate of emerging contaminants (ECs). A study was carried out at the contrasting instrumented environmental observatory sites at Oxford, on the peri-urban floodplain gravel aquifer of the River Thames and Boxford, in the rural valley of the River Lambourn on the chalk aquifer, in Southern England to explore the use of ECs to fingerprint contaminant sources and flow pathways in groundwater. At Oxford compounds were typical of a local waste tip plume (not only plasticisers and solvents but also barbiturates and N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET)) and of the urban area (plasticisers and mood-enhancing drugs such as carbamazepine). At Boxford the results were different with widespread occurrence of agricultural pesticides, their metabolites and the solvent trichloroethene, as well as plasticisers, caffeine, butylated food additives, DEET, parabens and trace polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Groups of compounds used in pharmaceuticals and personal care products of different provenance in the environment could be distinguished, i) historical household and medical waste, ii) long-term household usage persistent in groundwater and iii) current usage and contamination from surface water. Co-contaminant and degradation products can also indicate the likely source of contaminants. A cocktail of contaminants can be used as tracers to provide information on catchment pathways and groundwater/surface water interactions. A prominent feature in this study is the attenuation of many EC compounds in the hyporheic zone.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0048-9697
Additional Keywords: GroundwaterBGS, Groundwater, Environmental tracers, Groundwater protection, Point source pollution, EOC
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
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Date made live: 04 Oct 2013 13:32 +0 (UTC)

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