Monitoring the Contaminants in Groundwater Can Be Improved with This Techinque

new research

New research demonstrated that regular monitoring, and stable and radioactive isotopes and contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) offered precise data in identifying the source of pollutants at a wastewater treatment facility in Victoria. 

An international collaboration, including ANSTO, has discovered that a mix of isotopic and conventional methods can distinguish between various sources of contaminants affecting groundwater in complex environments. Here is what you need to know. 

The Process of Contamination

Dr. Dioni Cendon, an environmental research scientist and expert in groundwater, conducted measurements of the stable and radioactive isotopes at ANSTO. 

The data used suggested that current and former treatment facilities affected the groundwater adjacent to and down from the wastewater treatment facility, on a site 100 kilometers south of Melbourne. 

That wastewater facility is enclosed by agricultural land utilized for livestock and horticulture. There is also extensive use of irrigation systems and fertilizers. The irrigation systems, for instance, use both recycled and groundwater from the treatment facility. 

Furthermore, the researchers discovered that agricultural sources and wastewater were affecting groundwater quality. Nutrient measurements of the groundwater indicated high concentrations of ammonia and nitrates but could not distinguish between them. 

New Way of Identifying the Contamination

A previous study realized by Prof Currell and Ph. D. candidate, William McCance at RMIT offered the necessary data and found a way of using “contaminants of emerging concern” (CECs) to identify wastewater contamination various sources. 

After considering a range of CECs from personal care products, herbicides, pharmaceuticals, and food ingredients, the researchers selected three based on their selection criteria: simazine (a herbicide), carbamazepine (an anti-convulsant medication for epilepsy), and sulfamethoxazole (an antibiotic). 

“The use of combined techniques, […] could help us preserve important groundwater resources and local environments; simple monitoring is not sufficient to understand potential impacts,” detailed Dr. Cendon. 

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