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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Vadose Zone Processes and Chemical Transport

Field-Scale Monitoring of Pharmaceutical Compounds Applied to Active Golf Courses by Recycled Water


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 43 No. 2, p. 658-670
    Received: July 27, 2013
    Published: June 23, 2014

    * Corresponding author(s): michael.young@beg.utexas.edu
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  1. M. H. Young *a,
  2. R. L. Greenbc,
  3. J. L. Conklede,
  4. M. McCulloughfg,
  5. D. A. Devitth,
  6. L. Wrighth,
  7. B. J. Vanderfordi and
  8. S. A. Snyderj
  1. a Bureau of Economic Geology, John A. and Katherine G. Jackson School of Geosciences, Univ. of Texas at Austin, University Station, Box X, Austin, TX 78712-8924
    b Dep. of Plant Sciences, Univ. California Riverside, Riverside, CA
    c current address: Center for Turf, Irrigation, and Landscape Technology, Plant Science Dep., California State Polytechnic Univ., Pomona, 3801 West Temple Ave., Pomona, CA 91768
    d Dep. of Environmental Sciences, Univ. of California Riverside, Science Laboratories 1, Room 211, Riverside, CA 92521
    e current address: Dep. of Oceanography & Coastal Sciences, Louisiana State Univ., Energy Coast & Environment Bldg., Room 3241, Baton Rouge, LA 70803
    f Northern California Golf Association, Pebble Beach, CA
    g current address: Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency, 5 Harris Court Bldg D, Monterey, CA 93940
    h School of Life Sciences, Univ. of Nevada, Las Vegas, 4505 S. Maryland Pkwy., Las Vegas, NV 89154
    i Southern Nevada Water Authority, 1350 Richard Bunker Avenue, Henderson, NV 89015
    j Dep. of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Univ. of Arizona, 1500 W University Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85721


The scarcity of potable water in arid and semiarid environments has led to the wider use of recycled water for irrigating agricultural fields, parks, golf courses, and other areas. One concern using recycled water as a source of irrigation has been the presence, fate, and transport of pharmaceutical compounds in water that percolates below the root zone of plants; however, very few multiyear field studies have been reported in the peer-reviewed literature. Here, we assessed compound mass flux of 13 pharmaceuticals in the fairways of four golf courses in the southwestern United States during a 2-yr field study. The sites varied by climate and soil type but were similar regarding turfgrass management. The results showed the presence of at least one pharmaceutical compound in nearly all samples collected, although concentrations were substantially lower after transport through the soil. Percent reduction in compound mass fluxes in drainage water was effectively 100% in 22 of 52 cases, 98 to 100% in 27 of 52 cases, and 73 to 94% in 3 of 52 cases (a case is defined as a specific compound measured at a specific site). Mass fluxes migrating below the root zone were calculated as <250 × 10−3 g ha−1 for all compounds and >100 × 10−3 g ha−1 in only two cases. For cases where the majority of the analyses were reportable, all fluxes were <8.80 × 10−3 g ha−1. Carbamazepine, meprobamate, and sulfamethoxazole were most commonly found in drainage water, representing nearly 80% of all reportable detections. This research demonstrates the potential of turfgrass/soil systems to reduce contaminant loading below the root zone and potentially toward groundwater.

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