Comparison of equilibrium and non-equilibrium distribution coefficients for the human drug carbamazepine in soil

C. F. Williams, J. E. Watson, S. D. Nelson

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The distribution coefficient (KD) for the human drug carbamazepine was measured using a non-equilibrium technique. Repacked soil columns were prepared using an Airport silt loam (Typic Natrustalf) with an average organic matter content of 2.45%. Carbamazepine solutions were then leached through the columns at 0.5, 1.0 and 1.5mLmin-1 representing average linear velocities of 1.8, 3.5 and 5.3cmh-1 respectively. Each flow rate was replicated three times and three carbamazepine pulses were applied to each column resulting in a total of 9 columns with 27 total carbamazepine pulses. Breakthrough curves were used to determine KD using the parameter fitting software CXTFIT. Results indicate that as flow rate decreased from 5.3 to 1.8cmh-1, KD increased an average of 21%. Additionally, KD determined by column leaching (14.7-22.7Lkg-1) was greater than KD determined by a 2h batch equilibrium adsorption (12.6Lkg-1). Based on these KD's carbamazepine would be generally characterized as non-mobile in the soil investigated. However, repeated carbamazepine applications resulted in an average 22% decrease in KD between the first and third applications. Decreasing KD is attributed to differences in sorption site kinetics and carbamazepine residence time in contact with the soil. This would indicate that the repeated use of reclaimed wastewater at high application rates for long-term irrigation or groundwater recharge has the potential to lead to greater transport of carbamazepine than KD determined by batch equilibrium would predict.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-173
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Jan 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • General Chemistry
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry


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