Source apportionment, hydrodynamic influence, and environmental stress of pharmaceuticals in an estuary with multiple outlets in South China
(a) Levels and detection frequencies of pharmaceuticals detected in the dissolved water and sediment of the eight outlets of the Pearl River; (b) Composition profile of the detected pharmaceuticals in dissolved water and sediment among the eight outlets; (c) Distribution of Σantibiotics in the surface water, bottom water, and surface sediment from the adjacent northern South China Sea.

Involved Members: Prof. Paul Kwan Sing LAM, Dr. Phoebe Yuefei RUAN, Dr. Meng YAN

We investigated the presence of 40 pharmaceuticals in water and sediment of the Pearl River Estuary (PRE) in the wet season of 2020. After entering the marine waters, pharmaceuticals tended to deposit at the PRE mouth by the influence of the plume bulge and onshore invasion of deep shelf waters. Hydrological modelling results showed that erythromycin-H2O and sulfamethoxazole discharged through the outlets constituted 30.8% and 6.74% of their environmental capacity, respectively, indicating a low environmental stress. Source apportionment via positive matrix factorization analysis revealed that pharmaceutical discharges through the Humen and Yamen outlets were predominantly of animal origin.


Wu, R.B., Ruan, Y.F., Huang, G., Li J., Lao, J.Y., Lin, H., Liu, Y., Cui, Y., Zhang, K., Wang, Q., Wu, J., Huang, B., Yan, M., Lam, P.K.S. (2022). Source Apportionment, Hydrodynamic Influence, and Environmental Stress of Pharmaceuticals in a Microtidal Estuary with Multiple Outlets in South China. Environmental Science and Technology, 56(16), 11374-11386. (impact factor 11.357)