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Sorensen J.P.R.,British Geological Survey | Lapworth D.J.,British Geological Survey | Nkhuwa D.C.W.,University of Zambia | Stuart M.E.,British Geological Survey | And 7 more authors.
Water Research | Year: 2014

The occurrence of emerging organic contaminants within the aquatic environment in Africa is currently unknown. This study provides early insights by characterising a broad range of emerging organic contaminants (n > 1000) in groundwater sources in Kabwe, Zambia. Groundwater samples were obtained during both the dry and wet seasons from a selection of deep boreholes and shallow wells completed within the bedrock and overlying superficial aquifers, respectively. Groundwater sources were distributed across the city to encompass peri-urban, lower cost housing, higher cost housing, and industrial land uses. The insect repellent DEET was ubiquitous within groundwater at concentrations up to 1.8 μg/L. Other compounds (n = 26) were detected in less than 15% of the sources and included the bactericide triclosan (up to 0.03 μg/L), chlorination by-products - trihalomethanes (up to 50 μg/L), and the surfactant 2,4,7,9-tetramethyl-5-decyne-4,7-diol (up to 0.6 μg/L). Emerging contaminants were most prevalent in shallow wells sited in low cost housing areas. This is attributed to localised vulnerability associated with inadequate well protection, sanitation, and household waste disposal. The five-fold increase in median DEET concentration following the onset of the seasonal rains highlights that more mobile compounds can rapidly migrate from the surface to the aquifer suggesting the aquifer is more vulnerable than previously considered. Furthermore it suggests DEET is potentially useful as a wastewater tracer in Africa. There was a general absence of personal care products, life-style compounds, and pharmaceuticals which are commonly detected in the aquatic environment in the developed world. This perhaps reflects some degree of attenuation within the subsurface, but could also be a result of the current limited use of products containing emerging contaminants by locals due to unaffordability and unavailability. As development and population increases in Africa, it is likely a wider-range of emerging contaminants will be released into the environment. © 2014.

Sorensen J.P.R.,British Geological Survey | Lapworth D.J.,British Geological Survey | Read D.S.,UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology | Nkhuwa D.C.W.,University of Zambia | And 6 more authors.
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2015

Quantitative PCR (qPCR) can rapidly screen for an array of faecally-derived bacteria, which can be employed as tracers to understand groundwater vulnerability to faecal contamination. A microbial DNA qPCR array was used to examine 45 bacterial targets, potentially relating to enteric pathogens, in 22 groundwater supplies beneath the city of Kabwe, Zambia in both the dry and subsequent wet season. Thermotolerant (faecal) coliforms, sanitary risks, and tryptophan-like fluorescence, an emerging real-time reagentless faecal indicator, were also concurrently investigated. There was evidence for the presence of enteric bacterial contamination, through the detection of species and group specific 16S rRNA gene fragments, in 72% of supplies where sufficient DNA was available for qPCR analysis. DNA from the opportunistic pathogen Citrobacter freundii was most prevalent (69% analysed samples), with Vibrio cholerae also perennially persistent in groundwater (41% analysed samples). DNA from other species such as Bifidobacterium longum and Arcobacter butzleri was more seasonally transient. Bacterial DNA markers were most common in shallow hand-dug wells in laterite/saprolite implicating rapid subsurface pathways and vulnerability to pollution at the surface. Boreholes into the underlying dolomites were also contaminated beneath the city highlighting that a laterite/saprolite overburden, as occurs across much of sub-Saharan aquifer, does not adequately protect underlying bedrock groundwater resources. Nevertheless, peri-urban boreholes all tested negative establishing there is limited subsurface lateral transport of enteric bacteria outside the city limits. Thermotolerant coliforms were present in 97% of sites contaminated with enteric bacterial DNA markers. Furthermore, tryptophan-like fluorescence was also demonstrated as an effective indicator and was in excess of 1.4 μg/L in all contaminated sites. © 2015 Published by Elsevier B.V.

Sorensen J.P.R.,British Geological Survey | Lapworth D.J.,British Geological Survey | Marchant B.P.,British Geological Survey | Nkhuwa D.C.W.,University of Zambia | And 7 more authors.
Water Research | Year: 2015

Enteric pathogens are typically inferred from the presence of surrogate indicator organisms such as thermotolerant (faecal) coliforms (TTCs). The analysis of TTCs requires time-consuming incubation in suitable laboratories, which can limit sampling resolution, particularly during critical pollution events. Here, we demonstrate the use of in-situ fluorimeters targeting tryptophan-like compounds as a rapid, reagentless indicator of TTCs in groundwater-derived potable water supplies in Africa. A range of other common indicators of TTCs were also determined including nitrate, turbidity, and sanitary risk survey scores. Sampling was conducted during both the dry and wet seasons to investigate seasonality. Tryptophan-like fluorescence was the most effective predictor of both presence/absence and number of TTCs during both seasons. Seasonal changes in tryptophan-like fluorescence in deeper supplies suggest it is transported more efficiently through the aquifer than TTCs. Moreover, the perennial elevated concentrations in some wells suggest it is more resilient than TTCs in groundwater. Therefore tryptophan-like fluorescence could also be a better indicator of some smaller, more easily transported, and long-lived, pathogenic enteric viruses. These sensors have the potential to be included in real-time pollution alert systems for drinking water supplies throughout the world, as well as for mapping enteric pathogen risks in developing regions. © 2015.

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