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Antibiotics in Austrian drinking water resources, survey 2014

Antibiotika in österreichischen Trinkwasserressourcen, Monitoring 2014

Norbert Inreiter, Birgit Huemer, Burkhard Springer, Franko Humer and Franz Allerberger


We surveyed antibiotics in drinking water in Austria. Testing for 37 antimicrobials was performed by online solid-phase extraction–liquid chromatography–high-resolution mass spectroscopy method. Selection of sample sites for drinking water resources focused on areas considered susceptible to contamination and on geographic population distribution. Sulfamethoxazole was detected in 10 (5%) of 200 samples collected in 2014. Five samples showed concentrations above the limit of quantification (2.5 ng/l). Concentrations measured were ≤8.9 ng/l, making toxic effects highly unlikely. However, even low-level concentrations of antibiotics could increase bacterial resistance. The presence of antibiotics is presently not regulated. We assume anthropogenic pollution (not animal husbandry) as source and ask for a maximum permissible value of antibiotics in drinking water.

Open access

Werner Brueller, Norbert Inreiter, Thomas Boegl, Martin Rubasch, Samim Saner, Franko Humer, Wolfgang Moche, Andrea Schuhmann, Werner Hartl, Christoph Brezinka, Ludwig Wildt and Franz Allerberger


Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can cause adverse effects in individuals and their offspring. In 2017 and 2018, we performed a survey on representative samples of Austrian drinking water (n = 20), groundwater (n = 22), and surface water (n = 12), the latter including bathing water (n = 5) and rivers (n = 7). We analyzed 54 samples for 28 parameters, including estrogens, polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs), phthalates, perfluoroalkyl substances, alkylphenols, bisphenol A and triclosan, correlating to 1512 measurements. In 39 of the 54 samples (72.2%), at least one endocrine disrupting or potentially disrupting chemical was found at or above the limit of quantification. None of the samples yielded estrogens or triclosan in detectable levels. Bisphenol A (BPA) was detected in 4 (20.0%) samples of drinking water, in 1 (4.5%) groundwater sample, and in 1 (20%) bathing water sample, with a maximum concentration of 0.021 μg/l found in one drinking water. Two drinking water samples yielded BPA in concentrations above the limit value of 0.01 μg/l, recently proposed by the European Commission for drinking water. Therefore, the ultimate public health goal must be to further reduce and restrict the production of EDCs and therewith decrease and eventually eliminate the contamination of drinking water resources.