Qualitative and quantitative use of micropollutants as source and process indicators. A review.


Department of Applied Geology, Geoscience Centre, University of Goettingen, Goldschmidtstr. 3, 37077 Goettingen, Germany. Electronic address: [Email]


Nowadays, micropollutants such as pharmaceuticals, pesticides and personal care products can be found ubiquitously in the anthropogenically influenced water cycle. As micropollutants have virtually no natural background concentrations they are significantly more sensitive in detecting processes and flow paths than classic inorganic tracers and indicators and at the same time they are often highly source specific. Therefore, using micropollutants as environmental indicators for anthropogenic activities is a common and frequently applied method today. As they interact in many ways with environmental matrices they can be used for source apportionment as well as to estimate flow paths and residence times in waterbodies. This review gives a systematic overview over the large variety of micropollutants used as indicators in the aquatic environment over the last decades together with the prerequisites on their use. Their application is subdivided into their qualitative (compound presence or absence) and quantitative (volume flows) use and shows the numerous possibilities from gaining basic information on the water regime up to advanced applications such as wastewater-based epidemiology.


Environmental forensics,Indicators,Micropollutants,Process information,Source apportionment,

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