Pharmaceuticals, Hormones, Pesticides, and other Bioactive Contaminants in Water, Sediment, and Tissue from Rocky Mountain National Park, 2012-2013

Authors: W A Battaglin; Paul M Bradley; L Iwanowicz; Celeste A Journey; V Blazer
Contribution Number: 655


Pharmaceuticals, hormones, pesticides, and other bioactive contaminants (BCs) are commonly detected in surface water and bed sediment in urban and suburban areas, but these contaminants are understudied in remote locations. In Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), Colorado, USA, BCs may threaten the reproductive success and survival of native aquatic species, benthic communities, and pelagic food webs. In 2012-2013, 67 water, 57 sediment, 63 fish, 10 frog, and 12 quality-control samples (8 water and 4 sediment) were collected from 20 sites in RMNP. Samples were analyzed for 369 parameters including 149 pharmaceuticals, 22 hormones, 137 pesticides, and 61 other chemicals or conditions to provide a representative assessment of BC occurrence within RMNP. Results indicate that BCs were detected in water and/or sediment from both remote and more accessible locations in RMNP. The most commonly detected BCs in water were caffeine, camphor, para-cresol, and DEET; and the most commonly detected BCs in sediment were indole, 3-methyl-1H-indole, para-cresol, and 2,6-dimethyl-naphthalene. Some detected contaminants, including carbaryl, caffeine, and oxycodone, are clearly attributable to direct local human input, whereas others may be transported into the park atmospherically (e.g., atrazine) or have local natural sources (e.g., para-cresol). One or more pharmaceuticals were detected in at least 1 sample from 15 of 20 sites. Most of the 29 detected pharmaceuticals are excreted primarily in human urine, not feces. Elevated net estrogenicity was observed in 18% of water samples, and elevated vitellogenin in blood was observed in 12% of male trout, both evidence of potential endocrine disruption. Hormone concentrations in sediment tended to be greater than concentrations in water. Most BCs were observed at concentrations below those not expected to pose adverse effects to aquatic life. Results indicate that even in remote locations aquatic wildlife can be exposed to pharmaceuticals, hormones, pesticides, and other bioactive contaminants.

Publication details
Published Date: 2018-06-05
Outlet/Publisher: Science of the Total Environment 643:651-673
Media Format: .PDF

ARMI Organizational Units:
Rocky Mountains - Water
Stressors; Water
Place Names:
stressors; surface water; water quality
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