Occurrence and fate of synthetic musk fragrances in effluent and non-effluent impacted environments: Detection in environmental matrices and implications for water policy
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Synthetic musk fragrances (SMFs) are considered micropollutants and can be found in various environmental matrices near wastewater discharge areas. These emerging contaminants are often detected in wastewater at low concentrations. They are continuously present and, therefore, constitute a constant exposure source. Objectives of this study were to investigate the environmental fate, transport, and transformation of SMFs. Occurrence of six polycyclic musk compounds (galaxolide, tonalide, cashmeran, celestolide, phantolide, traseolide) and two nitro musk compounds (musk xylene and musk ketone) were monitored in wastewater, various surface waters and their sediments, as well as groundwater, soil cores, and plants from a treated wastewater land application site. Specifically, samples were collected quarterly (1) from a wastewater reclamation plant to determine initial concentrations in wastewater effluent, (2) from a storage reservoir at a land application site to determine possible photolysis before land application, (3) from soil cores to determine the amount of sorption after land application, (4) from a lake system and its sediment to assess degradation, and (5) from non-effluent impacted local playa lakes and their sediments to assess potential sources of these compounds. Recently an innovative technique, stir-bar sorptive extraction (SBSE), was developed to extract organic contaminants from a variety of matrices. This method may lower detection limits and provide efficient analyses needed to detect SMFs in exclusive matrices such as those in this study (plants from a land application site and blood samples from ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) in a remote location). Preliminary methods herein described were for using SBSE as a method to detect traceable concentrations in matrices not likely to accumulate high quantities of SMFs. Because SMFs are able to transport through different matrices along a remote pathway (i.e., from consumer product to wastewater to surface water or soil to groundwater then drinking water and even air and biota), SBSE is a method that can be used to validate the occurrence of SMFs and again affirm their ubiquitous nature. All samples were analyzed using gas chromatography coupled with selected ion mass spectrometry. Data indicated that occurrence of SMFs in effluent-impacted environments was detectable at ng/L and ng/g concentrations which decreased during transport throughout wastewater treatment. However, unexpected concentrations, ng/L and ng/g, were also detected in playa lakes not receiving treated effluent. Additionally, soil cores from land application sites had ng/g concentrations. Galaxolide and tonalide were consistently found in all environments, whereas various musks were found in non-effluent impacted environments. Galaxolide was also detected in exclusive matrices using SBSE techniques. Information on occurrence is critical to assessing exposure to these potentially endocrine disrupting compounds. Such information could provide a scientific framework for establishing the need for environmental regulations. Greywater use is a potential solution for addressing water shortages and sustainability. As water reuse practices increase, concerns about water quality should be addressed. The U.S. National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), under the Clean Water Act, limits the amount of discharged pollutants from wastewater treatment facilities in order to maintain water quality. Emerging organic pollutants not completely eliminated during treatment processes are not regulated by NPDES. These emerging contaminants may have an impact on the environment. Research on the occurrence, fate, and toxicity of emerging organic pollutants, specifically pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs), is needed to provide a scientific framework upon which appropriate environmental regulations could be established. Refining NPDES policy can address PPCPs found in wastewater, and lead to better monitoring and implementation of enhanced wastewater treatment. Integrative approaches that bridge scientific understanding with policy making can lead to healthier watersheds, ultimately improving the Clean Water Act goals.