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Occurrence and risk assessment of azole fungicides during the urban water cycle: A year-long study along the Yangtze River, China


Peng Shi , Yangyang Zhang , Xinjie Gu , Xiuwen Li , Qiuyun Zhao , Xiaodong Hu , Rui Huang , Jixiong Xu , Zilong Yin , Qing Zhou , Aimin Li

DOI:10.1016/j.jes.2023.11.011

Received September 25, 2023,Revised , Accepted November 12, 2023, Available online November 21, 2023

Volume 36,2024,Pages 16-25

Azole fungicides (AFs) play an important role in the prevention and treatment of fungal diseases in agricultural crops. However, limited studies are addressing the fate and ecological risk of AFs in the urban water cycle at a large watershed scale. To address this gap, we investigated the spatiotemporal distribution and ecological risk of twenty AFs in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River across four seasons. Carbendazim (CBA), tebuconazole (TBA), tricyclazole (TCA), and propiconazole (PPA) were found to be the dominant compounds. Their highest concentrations were measured in January (188.3 ng/L), and November (2197.1 ng/L), July (162.0 ng/L), and November (1801.9 ng/L), respectively. The comparison between wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) effluents and surface water suggested that industrial WWTPs are major sources of AFs in the Yangtze River. In particular, TBA and PPA were found to be the most recalcitrant AFs in industrial WWTPs, while difenoconazole (DFA) was found to be the most potent pollutant in municipal WWTPs, with an average removal rate of less than 60%. The average risk quotient (RQ) for the entire AFs was 6.45 in the fall, which was higher than in January (0.98), April (0.61), and July (0.40). This indicates that AFs in surface water posed higher environmental risks during the dry season. Additionally, the exposure risk of AFs via drinking water for sensitive populations deserves more attention. This study provides benchmark data on the occurrence of AFs in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, and offers suggestions for better reduction of AFs.

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