An assessment of contamination fingerprinting techniques for determining the impact of domestic wastewater treatment systems on private well supplies
Faecal source tracking
Emerging organic contaminants
MetadataShow full item record
StatisticsDisplay Item Statistics
CitationChris Fennell, Bruce Misstear, David O’Connell, Donata Dubber, Patrice Behan, Martin Danaher, Mary Moloney, Laurence Gill, An assessment of contamination fingerprinting techniques for determining the impact of domestic wastewater treatment systems on private well supplies, Environmental Pollution, Volume 268, Part B, 2021, 115687, ISSN 0269-7491, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2020.115687.
AbstractPrivate wells in Ireland and elsewhere have been shown to be prone to microbial contamination with the main suspected sources being practices associated with agriculture and domestic wastewater treatment systems (DWWTS). While the microbial quality of private well water is commonly assessed using faecal indicator bacteria, such as Escherichia coli, such organisms are not usually source-specific, and hence cannot definitively conclude the exact origin of the contamination. This research assessed a range of different chemical contamination fingerprinting techniques (ionic ratios, artificial sweeteners, caffeine, fluorescent whitening compounds, faecal sterol profiles and pharmaceuticals) as to their use to apportion contamination of private wells between human wastewater and animal husbandry wastes in rural areas of Ireland. A one-off sampling and analysis campaign of 212 private wells found that 15% were contaminated with E. coli. More extensive monitoring of 24 selected wells found 58% to be contaminated with E. coli on at least one occasion over a 14-month period. The application of fingerprinting techniques to these monitored wells found that the use of chloride/bromide and potassium/sodium ratios is a useful low-cost fingerprinting technique capable of identifying impacts from human wastewater and organic agricultural contamination, respectively. The artificial sweetener acesulfame was detected on several occasions in a number of monitored wells, indicating its conservative nature and potential use as a fingerprinting technique for human wastewater. However, neither fluorescent whitening compounds nor caffeine were detected in any wells, and faecal sterol profiles proved inconclusive, suggesting limited suitability for the conditions investigated.
FunderIrish Environmental Protection Agency; Irish Research Council
Grant Number2012-W-MS-12; [GOIPD/2014/192
The following license files are associated with this item:
- Creative Commons
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.