The risk of earth burials for the environment and public health is a matter of controversial debate. The aim of the present study is to characterise the drainage of cemeteries with regard to the concentration of a number of pharmaceuticals and to the soil’s hydrochemical properties, and to discuss these data in comparison with data obtained for surface waters located upstream of the cemeteries. Of the 12 drainage samples analysed using LC-ESI-MS/MS, seven contained carbamazepine (< 225 ng l−1), five contained hydrochlorothiazide, one contained metoprolol (23 ng l−1) and one contained traces of ibuprofen. The surface water samples contained a larger number of different drugs (8 of the 12 drugs under investigation) and higher concentrations (e.g. metropolol 2230 ng l−1). The NO3, NH4, PO4 and DOC concentrations and the electrical conductivity of the cemetery drainages were in several samples higher than those of the surface water samples. The NO3 and NH4 concentrations exceeded the legal contaminant limits of drinking water in only one case. The present study found that the release of drugs and nutrients from cemeteries, measured in surface water drug loads, presents a low environmental risk. However, the study is only a snapshot and long-term monitoring of cemetery drainages, including a broad range of pharmaceuticals and detailed hydrological investigations, will have to be carried out before more substantiated statements can be made.
Environmental Science and Pollution Research – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 6, 2017
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