Fate of Contaminants of Emerging Concern in a Sinkhole Lake, Florida, USA

  • Van Beynen Philip
  • Ethan Upton University of South Florida, Florida, USA
  • Ela Bialkowska-Jelinska University of South Florida, Florida, USA
  • Laurent Calcul University of South Florida, Florida, USA
Keywords: sinkhole lake, contaminants of emerging concern, Florida,, karst,, onsite water treatment systems


Highly karstified carbonate platforms such as Florida are characterized by rapid infiltration rates, highly permeable bedrock and the direct connection to the below aquifer through the high density of sinkholes. This combination of physical features makes the groundwater and aquifers highly vulnerable to contamination from synthetic chemicals commonly referred to as contaminants of emerging concern (CECs). The use of septic tanks, otherwise referred to as onsite water treatment systems (OWTS), promotes the introduction of CECs into the environment. In order to study the impacts of CECs from OWTS on a karst landscape, water, sediment, and vegetation samples were collected in a sinkhole lake surrounded by residential housing using this waste disposal method. The main question of this research project is what is the fate of CECs from OWTSs effluent within the catchment of a sinkhole lake? Liquid chromatograph mass spectrometry was used to analyze the samples for the presence of CECs. It was found that the relative quantity of CECs in the individual constituents is dependent upon 1) the hydrophobicity and polarity of the individual compound, 2) the specific sampling site, 3) the topography gradient, and 4) for vegetation, the connectedness of the sample type to the sediment. Hydrogeological studies have found that the sinkholes of the area are all connected to the below aquifer. Consequently, these CECs pose a risk of the contamination of the groundwater. This study is a temporal snapshot, that being the dry season of Florida which is most likely the time of lowest CEC contamination. It is imperative that sampling extend into the wet season when flushing of CECs from the OWTS may increase their concentrations in both the lake but also the aquifers especially since residents use well water as their source of potable water. While this study is based in Florida, we strongly suspect that our findings and recommendations are applicable more generally as OWTS are used throughout the many karst regions of the world.


Download data is not yet available.


Anumol, T., Merel, S. & Snyder, S., n.d.: High Sensitivity HPLC Analysis of Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) in Water Using the Agilent 6460 Triple Quadrupole LC/MS System.

Aubertheau, E., Stalder, T., Mondamert, L., Ploy, M.-C., Dagot, C. & Labanowski, J., 2016: Impact of wastewater treatment plant discharge on the contamination of river biofilms by pharmaceuticals and antibiotic resistance - Science of The Total Environment, 579, 1387–1398.

Batley, G. E. & Simpson, S. L., 2016: Sediment sampling, sample preparation and general analysis. In Sediment quality assessment: a practical guide, 15-46. CSIRO.

Blair, B. D., Crago, J. P., Hedman, C. J., Treguer, R. J. F., Magruder, C., Royer, L. S. & Klaper, R. D., 2013: Evaluation of a model for the removal of pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and hormones from wastewater - Science of the Total Environment, 444, 515–521.

Bloomfield, J. P., Williams, R. J., Gooddy, D. C., Cape, J. N. & Guha, P., 2006: Impacts of climate change on the fate and behaviour of pesticides in surface and groundwater—a UK perspective - Science of the Total Environment, 369, 163–177.

Carrara, C., Ptacek, C. J., Robertson, W. D., Blowes, W., Moncur, M. C. & Backus, S., 2008: Fate of Pharmaceutical and Trace Organic Compounds in Three Septic System Plumes, Ontario, Canada - Environmental Science & Technology, 42(8), 2805–2811.

Chen, F., Yao, Q., & Zhou, X., 2015: The Influence of Suspended Solids on the Combined Toxicity of Galaxolide and Lead to Daphnia magna - Bulletin of Environmental Contamination & Toxicology, 95(1), 73–79.

Conn, K. E., Lowe, K. S., Drewes, J. E., Hoppe-Jones, C. & Tucholke, M. B., 2010: Occurrence of pharmaceuticals and consumer product chemicals in raw wastewater and septic tank effluent from single-family homes - Environmental Engineering Science, 27(4), 347-356.

Dalrymple, O. K., 2005: Experimental determination of the octanol-water partition coefficient for acetophenone and atrazine - Physical & Chemical Principles of Environmental Engineering, 6933-05.

Del Rosario, K. L., Mitra, S., Humphrey, C. P. & O’Driscoll, M. A., 2014: Detection of pharmaceuticals and other personal care products in groundwater beneath and adjacent to onsite wastewater treatment systems in a coastal plain shallow aquifer - Science of the Total Environment, 487(1), 216–223.

DiNardo, J. C. & Downs, C. A., 2018: Dermatological and environmental toxicological impact of the sunscreen ingredient oxybenzone/benzophenone-3 - Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 17(1), 15-19.

Dodgen, L.K., Kelly, W.R., Panno, S.V., Taylor, S.J., Armstrong, D.L., Wiles, K.N., Zhang, Y. & Zheng, W., 2017: Characterizing pharmaceutical, personal care product, and hormone contamination in a karst aquifer of southwestern Illinois, USA, using water quality and stream flow parameters - Science of the Total Environment, 578, 281-289.

Dodgen, L. K. & Zheng, W., 2016: Effects of reclaimed water matrix on fate of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in soil - Chemosphere, 156, 286–293.

Ebele, A. J., Abou-Elwafa Abdallah, M. & Harrad, S., 2017: Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in the freshwater aquatic environment - Emerging Contaminants, 3(1), 1-16.

Ebrahimi, P., Spooner, J., Weinberg, N. & Plettner, E., 2013: Partition, sorption and structure activity relation study of dialkoxybenzenes that modulate insect behavior - Chemosphere, 93(1), 54–60.

Fairbairn, D.J., Karpuzcu, M.E., Arnold, W.A., Barber, B.L., Kaufenberg, E.F., Koskinen, W.C., Novak, P.J., Rice, P.J. & Swackhamer, D.L., 2015: Sediment–water distribution of contaminants of emerging concern in a mixed use watershed - Science of the Total Environment, 505, 896-904.

Ferrer, I., Thurman, E. M. & Zweigenbaum, J., n.d.: Ultrasensitive EPA Method 1694 with the Agilent 6460 LC/MS/MS with Jet Stream Technology for Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products in Water.

Godfrey, E., Woessner, W. W. & Benotti, M. J., 2007: Pharmaceuticals in on‐site sewage effluent and ground water, western Montana - Groundwater, 45(3), 263-271.

Google Maps (2019) Study Area in Riverview Florida located at 27°50'09.5"N 82°16'46.4"W. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/maps/@27.8351735,-82.2785955,626m/data=!3m1!1e3

Goswami, L., Vinoth Kumar, R., Borah, S. N., Arul Manikandan, N., Pakshirajan, K. & Pugazhenthi, G., 2018: Membrane bioreactor and integrated membrane bioreactor systems for micropollutant removal from wastewater: A review - Journal of Water Process Engineering, 26, 314–328.

Groshart, C. P., Okkeman, P. C. & Pijnenburg, A. M. C. M., 2001: Chemical study on bisphenol A. Rapportnr.: 2001.027.

Gutiérrez, F., Parise, M., De Waele, J. & Jourde, H., 2014: A review on natural and human-induced geohazards and impacts in karst - Earth-Science Reviews. 138, 61-88

Haber, J. D. & Mayfield, G., 2003: Sinkhole Formation at Lake Grady, Florida. In Karst Studies in West Central Florida: USF Seminar in Karst Environments (pp. 53-64). Tampa, FL: The University of South Florida and the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

Hansch, C., Leo, A. & Hoekman, D. H., 1995: Exploring QSAR: fundamentals and applications in chemistry and biology (Vol. 557). Washington, DC: American Chemical Society.

Hindle, R., (n.d.). Improved Analysis of Trace Hormones in Drinking Water by LC/MS/MS (EPA 539) using the Agilent 6460 Triple Quadrupole LC/MS. (Epa 539).

Jiskra, J., Claessens, H. A., Cramers, C. A. & Kaliszan, R., 2002: Quantitative structure–retention relationships in comparative studies of behavior of stationary phases under high-performance liquid chromatography and capillary electrochromatography conditions - Journal of Chromatography A, 977(2), 193–206.

Katz, B. G., Griffin, D. W., McMahon, P. B., Harden, H. S., Wade, E., Hicks, R. W. & Chanton, J. P., 2010: Fate of effluent-borne contaminants beneath septic tank drainfields overlying a karst aquifer - Journal of environmental quality, 39(4), 1181-1195..

Kaufmann, G. & Dreybrodt, W., 2007: Calcite dissolution kinetics in the system CaCO3-H2O-CO2 at high undersaturation - Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. 71(6), 1398-1410.

Kwon, Y., 2002: Handbook of Essential Pharmacokinetics, Pharmacodynamics and Drug Metabolism for Industrial Scientists. Springer US.

Ma, B., Arnold, W. A. & Hozalski, R. M., 2018: The relative roles of sorption and biodegradation in the removal of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) in GAC-sand biofilters - Water Research 146, 67-76.

Mohsen-Nia, M., Ebrahimabadi, A. H. & Niknahad, B., 2012: Partition coefficient n-octanol/water of propranolol and atenolol at different temperatures: Experimental and theoretical studies - The Journal of Chemical Thermodynamics, 54, 393–397.

Nakada, N., Hanamoto, S., Jürgens, M. D., Johnson, A. C., Bowes, M. J. & Tanaka, H., 2016: Assessing the population equivalent and performance of wastewater treatment through the ratios of pharmaceuticals and personal care products present in a river basin: Application to the River Thames basin, UK - Science of the Total Environment, 575, 1100–1108.

Nanjundaiah, S., Mutturi, S. & Bhatt, P., 2017: Modeling of caffeine degradation kinetics during cultivation of Fusarium solani using sucrose as co-substrate - Biochemical Engineering Journal, 125, 73-80.

Pedersen, S.N., Pedersen, K.L., Hojrup, P., Andersen, J.S., Roepstorff, P., Knudsen, J., Depledge, M.H., 1994. Purifi- cation and characterization of cadmium-induced MT from the shore crab Carcinus maenas. Biochem. J. 297, 609–614.

Petrie, B., Smith, B. D., Youdan, J., Barden, R. & Kasprzyk-Hordern, B., 2017: Multi-residue determination of micropollutants in Phragmites australis from constructed wetlands using microwave assisted extraction and ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry - Analytica Chimica Acta, 959, 91–101.

Phillips, J. D., 1989: An evaluation of the factors determining the effectiveness of water quality buffer zones - Journal of Hydrology, 107(1), 133–145.

Plácido, N.S., Carlos, A.L., Galvão, J.U., Souza, R.L., Soares, C.M., Mattedi, S., Fricks, A.T. & Lima, Á.S., 2018: Protic ionic liquids as a constituent of biphasic systems based on acetonitrile: Phase diagram and alkaloid partitioning - Separation and Purification Technology 200, 318-326.

Prosser, R. S., & Sibley, P. K., 2015: Human health risk assessment of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in plant tissue due to biosolids and manure amendments, and wastewater irrigation - Environment international, 75, 223-233.

Ricart, M., Guasch, H., Alberch, M., Barceló, D., Bonnineau, C., Geiszinger, A., Ferrer, J., Ricciardi, F., Romaní, A.M., Morin, S. & Proia, L., 2010: Triclosan persistence through wastewater treatment plants and its potential toxic effects on river biofilms - Aquatic Toxicology, 100(4), pp.346-353.

Rodil, R., Quintana, J. B., López-Mahía, P., Muniategui-Lorenzo, S. & Prada-Rodríguez, D., 2009: Multi-residue analytical method for the determination of emerging pollutants in water by solid-phase extraction and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry - Journal of Chromatography A, 1216(14), 2958-2969

Rushing, B., Wooten, A., Shawky, M. & Selim, M. I., 2016: Comparison of LC-MS and GC-MS for the Analysis of Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products in Surface Water and Treated Wastewaters - Current Trends in Mass Spectrometry, 14(3), 8-14.

Schnoor, J. L., Light, L. A., McCutcheon, S. C., Wolfe, N. L. & Carreia, L. H., 1995: Phytoremediation of organic and nutrient contaminants - Environmental science & technology, 29(7), 318A-323A.

Serra-Roig, M. P., Jurado, A., Diaz-Cruz, M. S., Vazquez-Sune, E., Pujades, E. & Barcelo, D., 2016: Occurrence, fate and risk assessment of personal care products in rive-groundwater interface - Science of the Total Environment, 568, 829–837.

Singh, S. P., Azua, A., Chaudhary, A., Khan, S., Willett, K. L. & Gardinali, P. R., 2010: Occurrence and distribution of steroids, hormones and selected pharmaceuticals in South Florida coastal environments - Ecotoxicology, 19(2), 338-350.

Simpson, S. & Batley, G., 2016: Sediment Quality Assessment: A Practical Guide Second Edition. Csiro Publishing.

Stuart, M., Lapworth, D., Crane, E. & Hart, A., 2012: Review of risk from potential emerging contaminants in UK groundwater - Science of the Total Environment 16, 1-21.

Subedi, B., Codru, N., Dziewulski, D.M., Wilson, L.R., Xue, J., Yun, S., Braun-Howland, E.,
Minihane, C. & Kannan, K., 2015: A pilot study on the assessment of trace organic contami-nants including pharmaceuticals and personal care products from on-site wastewater treatment systems along Skaneateles Lake in New York State, USA - Water Research., 72, 28– 39.

Svenningsen, H., Henriksen, T., Priemé, A. & Johnsen, A. R., 2011: Triclosan affects the microbial community in simulated sewage-drain-field soil and slows down xenobiotic degradation - Environmental Pollution, 159(6), 1599-1605.

Swartz, C. H., Reddy, S., Benotti, M.J., Yin, H.F., Barber, L.B., Brownawell, B.J. & Rudel, R.A., 2006: Steroid estrogens, nonylphenol ethoxylate metabolites, and other wastewater con-taminants in groundwater affected by a residential septic system on Cape Cod, MA - Environmental Science and Technology, 40, 4894– 4902.

Tihansky, A. B., 1999: Sinkholes, west-central Florida. Land subsidence in the United States: US geological survey circular, 1182, 121-140.

Tollefsen, K. E., Nizzetto, L. & Huggett, D. B., 2012: Presence, fate and effects of the intense sweetener sucralose in the aquatic environment - Science of the Total Environment, 438, 510-516.

World Health Organization, 1998: Flame retardants: tris (chloropropyl) phosphate and tris (2-chloroethyl) phosphate.

Wilcox, J.D., Bahr, J.M., Hedman, C.J., Hemming, J.D.C., Barman, M.A.E. & Bradbury, K.R., 2009: Removal of organic wastewater contaminants in septic systems using advanced treat-ment technologies – Journal of Environmental Quality, 38, 149– 156.

Wu, X., Ernst, F., Conkle, J. L. & Gan, J., 2013: Comparative uptake and translocation of pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs) by common vegetables - Environment International, 60, 15-22.

Wu, X., Dodgen, L. K., Conkle, J. L. & Gan, J., 2015: Plant uptake of pharmaceutical and personal care products from recycled water and biosolids: A review - Science of the Total Environment, 536, 655–666.

Yang, X., Flowers, R.C., Weinberg, H.S. & Singer, P.C., 2011: Occurrence and removal of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in an advanced wastewater reclamation plant - Water Research, 45, 5218– 5228.

Zhang, S., Wang, Z. & Chen, J., 2019: Physiologically based toxicokinetics (PBTK) models for pharmaceuticals and personal care products in wild common carp (Cyprinus carpio) - Chemosphere, 220, 793–801.

Zhou, S., Di Paolo, C., Wu, X., Shao, Y., Seiler, T.-B. & Hollert, H., 2019: Optimization of screening-level risk assessment and priority selection of emerging pollutants – The case of pharmaceuticals in European surface waters - Environment International, 128, 1–10.
How to Cite
Philip VB, Upton E, Bialkowska-JelinskaE, Calcul L. Fate of Contaminants of Emerging Concern in a Sinkhole Lake, Florida, USA. AC [Internet]. 2020Dec.16 [cited 2022Jan.24];49(2-3). Available from: https://ojs.zrc-sazu.si/carsologica/article/view/8007
Original papers