Uptake of carbamazepine by cucumber plants - A case study related to irrigation with reclaimed wastewater

Moshe Shenker, Daniella Harush, Julius Ben-Ari, Benny Chefetz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

230 Scopus citations


Reclaimed wastewater is an important source of irrigation in semiarid and arid zones. Here we report data on carbamazepine (CBZ) uptake by cucumber plants in hydroponic culture and greenhouse experiments using different soil types irrigated with fresh water or reclaimed wastewater. Data obtained from the hydroponic culture experiments suggest that CBZ is mainly translocated by water mass flow, and thus it is concentrated and accumulated to the largest extent in the mature/older leaves. Carbamazepine concentration in cucumber fruits and leaves was negatively correlated with soil organic matter content. The concentrations of CBZ in the roots and stems were relatively low, and most CBZ in the plant (76-84% of total uptake) was detected in the leaves. A greenhouse experiment using fresh water and reclaimed wastewater spiked, or not, with CBZ at 1μgL-1 (typical concentration in effluents) revealed that CBZ can be taken up and bioaccumulated from its background concentration in reclaimed wastewater. Bioaccumulation factor (calculated as the ratio of CBZ concentration in the plant to that in the soil solution) for the fruits (0.8-1) was significantly lower than the value calculated for the leaves (17-20).This study emphasizes the potential uptake of active pharmaceutical compounds by crops in organic-matter-poor soils irrigated with reclaimed wastewater and highlights the potential risks associated with this agricultural practice.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)905-910
Number of pages6
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants from BARD, the United States–Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund (IS-3822-06) and the Israel Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.


  • Bioaccumulation
  • Carbamazepine
  • Food-chain
  • Irrigation
  • Pharmaceutical compounds
  • Wastewater


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