Occurrence, fate and mass loading of benzodiazepines and their transformation products in eleven wastewater treatment plants in Guangdong province, China


Benzodiazepines (BZDs) are one of the most widely prescribed psychoactive drugs, however their persistence in the receiving environment has raised great concerns about their potential ecological risks. Here we investigated the occurrence, fate and mass loading of 17 BZDs and their 3 transformation products in 11 wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in Guangdong province, China. A total of 10 BZDs and 1 transformation product were found in the WWTPs influents, effluents and excess sludge, with concentrations reaching up to 44.5 ng/L (clozapine), 27.1 ng/L (oxazepam) and 62.9 ng/g (clozapine), respectively. The overall removal efficiency varied widely from negative to complete removal in these 11 WWTPs. Mass balance analysis of two representative WWTPs (WWTPA and WWTPB) with different treatment processes showed that their removals were mainly attributed to the sludge adsorption and biodegradation/biotransformation. The total usage of detected BZDs was estimated to be 185 kg/y in Guangdong province, China, while the total emission was 143 kg/y. Based on sewage epidemiology method, the total back-estimated consumption and emissions of BZDs and their transformation products in one district of Guangzhou (WWTPC service area) were 1012 mg/d/1000 people and 10.1 mg/d/1000 people, respectively. The findings from this study demonstrate the persistence of BZDs in WWTPs and also provide basis for further investigation into the potential ecological risks from this group of chemicals.

Authors: Hao-Jun Lei, Bin Yang, Pu Ye, Yuan-Yuan Yang, Jian-Liang Zhao, You-Sheng Liu, Lingtian Xie, Guang-Guo Ying
; Full Source: The Science of the total environment 2020 Oct 1;755(Pt 2):142648. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.142648.