Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 36, pp 36207–36222 | Cite as

Variations of anthropogenic gadolinium in rivers close to waste water treatment plant discharges

  • Marc ParantEmail author
  • Emilie Perrat
  • Philippe Wagner
  • Christophe Rosin
  • Jean-Sebastien Py
  • Carole Cossu-Leguille
Research Article


Rare earth element (REE) concentrations were determined for 22 sites sampled during two water periods: high flow in winter and low flow in summer. Shale-normalized REE patterns of all samples displayed positive gadolinium (Gd) anomalies. They revealed a widespread contamination of anthropogenic Gd (Gdant) from waste water treatment plant (WWTP) outputs to catchment areas used for drinking water. No significant variations in Gdant were observed between the two flow water periods, but differences in the Gd anomalies were present. However, these differences seem to be associated rather with seasonal variations in the river flow rate than with the release of GdAnt from WWTPs. In proximity to WWTP discharges, strong GdAnt variations ranged from few nanograms per litre to more than 80 μg L−1 and rarely showed a repetitive pattern day after day during 14 days. These concentrations were diluted into the river stream and measured around 10 ng L−1 close to the catchment areas used for drinking water. A principal component analysis (PCA) using the GdAnt concentrations and some classical physicochemical parameters (pH, water temperature, total alkalinity (TA), total organic carbon (TOC), biochemical and chemical oxygen demand (BOD and COD), Cl, NO3 and SO42−) allowed a site separation according to the level of Gd contamination, highlighting that the highest GdAnt concentrations were found in the north of the region Lorraine (France) where the population density is high and most of the MRI examinations are performed.


Anthropogenic gadolinium Waste water treatment plants Rare earth elements Contrast agents 



The authors are grateful to Philippe Rousselle for his help with water sampling, and they warmly thank Kalina Doyen for her English corrections. This work has been supported by the Lorraine region and the French National Research Agency through the Investissements d’avenir national program with the reference ANR-10-LABX-21-01/LABEX RESSOURCES21 and by the CNRS-INSU coordination through the EC2CO-ECODYN program.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire des Environnements Continentaux, LIEC UMR 7360, Bât P7Université de LorraineMetzFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire d’Hydrologie de NancyAgence Nationale de Sécurité Sanitaire Alimentation - Environnement – TravailNancyFrance
  3. 3.Agence Nationale de Sécurité Sanitaire Alimentation - Environnement – TravailNancyFrance

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