Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 154, Issue 1–4, pp 349–359 | Cite as

Presence of steroid hormones and antibiotics in surface water of agricultural, suburban and mixed-use areas

  • Magdalena Velicu
  • Rominder Suri


The occurrence of pharmaceutically active chemicals (PACs) in the natural aquatic environment is recognized as an emerging issue due to the potential adverse effects these compounds pose to aquatic life and humans. This study presents the monitoring of two major categories of PACs in surface water: steroid hormones and antibiotics. Surface water samples were collected in the fall season from 21 locations in suburban (4), agricultural (5) and mixed (12) use suburban and agricultural areas. The water samples collected were analyzed using GC/MS for aqueous concentration of eleven steroid hormones: six natural (17α-estradiol, 17β-estradiol, estrone, estriol, 17α-dihydroequilin, progesterone) and five synthetic (gestodene, norgestrel, levonorgestrel, medrogestone, trimegestone). In addition, 12 antibiotics (oxytetracycline, chlorotetracycline, tetracycline, sulfamethoxazole, sulfamethazine, trimethoprim, lincomycin, norfloxacin, ofloxacin, roxithromycin, erythromycin, tylosin tartrate) were analyzed using LC/MS. Steroid hormones detected in surface water were: 17α-estradiol, 17β-estradiol, 17α-dihydroequilin, estriol, estrone, progesterone and trimegestone. Estrone had the highest detection frequency of >90% with concentrations ranging from 0.6 to 2.6 ng/l. The second most frequently detected estrogen was estriol (>80%) with concentrations ranging from 0.8 to 19 ng/l. The detection frequency varied at different sampling locations. No antibiotics were detected in the 21 streams sampled. This study aims to give a better understanding on the presence, fate and transport of PACs derived from humans and animals.


Endocrine disrupting compounds Environmental estrogens Antibiotics Emerging contaminants Pharmaceutical and personal care products EDCs Surface water PPCPs PACs 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Villanova Center for the EnvironmentVillanova UniversityVillanovaUSA

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