Occurrence of synthetic musk fragrances in effluent and non-effluent impacted environments

Darcy A. Chase, Adcharee Karnjanapiboonwong, Yu Fang, George P. Cobb, Audra N. Morse, Todd A. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Synthetic musk fragrances (SMFs) are considered micropollutants and can be found in various environmental matrices near wastewater discharge areas. These emerging contaminants are often detected in wastewater at low concentrations; they are continuously present and constitute a constant exposure source. Objectives of this study were to investigate the environmental fate, transport, and transformation of SMFs. Occurrence of six polycyclic musk compounds (galaxolide, tonalide, celestolide, phantolide, traseolide, cashmeran) and two nitro musk compounds (musk xylene and musk ketone) was monitored in wastewater, various surface waters and their sediments, as well as groundwater, soil cores, and plants from a treated wastewater land application site. Specifically, samples were collected quarterly from (1) a wastewater treatment plant to determine initial concentrations in wastewater effluent, (2) a storage reservoir at a land application site to determine possible photolysis before land application, (3) soil cores to determine the amount of sorption after land application and groundwater recharge to assess lack thereof, (4) a lake system and its sediment to assess degradation, and (5) non-effluent impacted local playa lakes and sediments to assess potential sources of these compounds. All samples were analyzed using gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Data indicated that occurrence of SMFs in effluent-impacted environments was detectable at ng/L and ng/g concentrations, which decreased during transport throughout wastewater treatment and land application. However, unexpected concentrations, ng/L and ng/g, were also detected in playa lakes not receiving treated effluent. Additionally, soil cores from land application sites had ng/g concentrations, and SMFs were detected in plant samples at trace levels. Galaxolide and tonalide were consistently found in all environments. Information on occurrence is critical to assessing exposure to these potential endocrine disrupting compounds. Such information could provide a scientific framework for establishing the need for environmental regulations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-260
Number of pages8
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Feb 1 2012


  • Land application
  • Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs)
  • Playas
  • Stir-bar sorptive extraction (SBSE)
  • Synthetic musk fragrances


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