Treated wastewater (TWW) is increasingly used for agricultural irrigation, especially in arid and semi-arid regions. Carbamazepine is among the most frequently detected pharmaceuticals in TWW. Moreover, its uptake and accumulation have been demonstrated in crops irrigated with TWW. A previous controlled trial found that urine concentrations of carbamazepine were higher in healthy volunteers consuming TWW-irrigated produce as compared to freshwater-irrigated produce. The aim of the current study was to assess whether carbamazepine is quantifiable in urine of Israelis consuming their usual diets and whether concentrations vary according to age, personal characteristics and diet. In this cross-sectional study, we recruited 245 volunteers, including a reference group of omnivorous healthy adults aged 18–66; pregnant women; children aged 3–6 years; adults aged >75 years; and vegetarians/vegans. Participants provided spot urine samples and reported 24-hour and “usual” dietary consumption. Urinary carbamazepine levels were compared according to group, personal characteristics, health behaviors, and reported diet. Carbamazepine was detectable (≥1.66 ng/L) in urine of 84%, 76%, 75.5%, 66%, and 19.6% of the reference group, vegetarians, older adults, pregnant women, and children, respectively. Quantifiable concentrations (≥5.0 ng/L) of carbamazepine were found in 58%, 46%, 36.7%, 14%, and 0% of these groups, respectively (p = 0.001 for comparison of proportions across groups). In adults, higher carbamazepine concentrations were significantly associated (p < 0.05) with self-defined vegetarianism, usual consumption of dairy products and at least five vegetables/day, and no meat or fish consumption in the past 24-hours. This study demonstrates that people living in a water-scarce region with widespread TWW irrigation, are unknowingly exposed to carbamazepine. Individuals adhering to recommended guidelines for daily fresh produce consumption may be at higher risk of exposure to TWW-derived contaminants of emerging concern.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The study was financially supported by the Environment and Health Fund (EHF) Jerusalem via the Hebrew University Center of Excellence in Agriculture and Environmental Health.
The study was financially supported by the Environment and Health Fund (EHF) Jerusalem via the Hebrew University Center of Excellence in Agriculture and Environmental Health. Parts of this work formed the Master Thesis in Public Health of Michael Schapira at the Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine of the Hebrew University-Hadassah. The authors wish to thank Ms. Irit Hen from the Department of Environmental Health, Israel Ministry of Health for providing data on carbamazepine concentrations in drinking water.
© 2020 The Author(s)
- Treated wastewater
- Water scarcity