Beta-agonists and sulfonamides are widely used for treating both humans and livestock for bronchial and cardiac problems, infectious disease and even as growth promoters. There are concerns about their potential environmental impacts, such as producing drug resistance in bacteria. This study focused on their spatial distribution in surface water and the identification of pollution sources in the Langat River basin, which is one of the most urbanized watersheds in Malaysia. Fourteen beta-agonists and 12 sulfonamides were quantitatively analyzed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). A geographic information system (GIS) was used to visualize catchment areas of the sampling points, and source profiling was conducted to identify the pollution sources based on a correlation between a daily pollutant load of the detected contaminant and an estimated density of human or livestock population in the catchment areas. As a result, 6 compounds (salbutamol, sulfadiazine, sulfapyridine, sulfamethazine, sulfadimethoxine and sulfamethoxazole) were widely detected in mid catchment areas towards estuary. The source profiling indicated that the pollution sources of salbutamol and sulfamethoxazole were from sewage, while sulfadiazine was from effluents of cattle, goat and sheep farms. Thus, this combination method of quantitative and spatial analysis clarified the spatial distribution of these drugs and assisted for identifying the pollution sources.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.