Characterisation of atmospheric deposition as a source of contaminants in urban rainwater tanks

Huston, R., Chan, Y. C., Gardner, T., Shaw, G. and Chapman, H. (2009) Characterisation of atmospheric deposition as a source of contaminants in urban rainwater tanks. Water Research, 43 6: 1630-1640. doi:10.1016/j.watres.2008.12.045

Author Huston, R.
Chan, Y. C.
Gardner, T.
Shaw, G.
Chapman, H.
Title Characterisation of atmospheric deposition as a source of contaminants in urban rainwater tanks
Journal name Water Research   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0043-1354
Publication date 2009-04-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.watres.2008.12.045
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 43
Issue 6
Start page 1630
End page 1640
Total pages 11
Place of publication Lisle, IL, United States
Publisher IWA Publishing
Language eng
Subject 2302 Ecological Modelling
2312 Water Science and Technology
2311 Waste Management and Disposal
2310 Pollution
Abstract Avian and possum fecal droppings may negatively impact roof-harvested rainwater (RHRW) water quality due to the presence of zoonotic pathogens. This study was aimed at evaluating the performance characteristics of a possum feces-associated (PSM) marker by screening 210 fecal and wastewater samples from possums (n = 20) and a range of nonpossum hosts (n = 190) in Southeast Queensland, Australia. The host sensitivity and specificity of the PSM marker were 0.90 and 0.95 (maximum value, 1.00), respectively. The mean concentrations of the GFD marker in possum fecal DNA samples (8.8 × 10(7) gene copies per g of feces) were two orders of magnitude higher than those in the nonpossum fecal DNA samples (5.0 × 10(5) gene copies per g of feces). The host sensitivity, specificity, and concentrations of the avian feces-associated GFD marker were reported in our recent study (W. Ahmed, V. J. Harwood, K. Nguyen, S. Young, K. Hamilton, and S. Toze, Water Res 88:613-622, 2016, The utility of the GFD and PSM markers was evaluated by testing a large number of tank water samples (n = 134) from the Brisbane and Currumbin areas. GFD and PSM markers were detected in 39 of 134 (29%) and 11 of 134 (8%) tank water samples, respectively. The GFD marker concentrations in PCR-positive samples ranged from 3.7 × 10(2) to 8.5 × 10(5) gene copies per liter, whereas the concentrations of the PSM marker ranged from 2.0 × 10(3) to 6.8 × 10(3) gene copies per liter of water. The results of this study suggest the presence of fecal contamination in tank water samples from avian and possum hosts. This study has established an association between the degradation of microbial tank water quality and avian and possum feces. Based on the results, we recommend disinfection of tank water, especially for tanks designated for potable use.
Formatted abstract
To characterise atmospheric input of chemical contaminants to urban rainwater tanks, bulk deposition (wet + dry deposition) was collected at sixteen sites in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia on a monthly basis during April 2007–March 2008 (N = 175). Water from rainwater tanks (22 sites, 26 tanks) was also sampled concurrently. The deposition/tank water was analysed for metals, soluble anions and selected samples were additionally analysed for PAHs, pesticides, phenols, organic & inorganic carbon. Flux (mg/m2/d) of total solids mass was found to correlate with average daily rainfall (R2 = 0.49) indicating the dominance of the wet deposition contribution to total solids mass. On average 97% of the total mass of analysed components was accounted for by Cl (25.0%), Na (22.6%), organic carbon (20.5%), NO3 (10.5%), SO24 (9.8%), inorganic carbon (5.7%), PO34 (1.6%) and NO2 (1.5%). For other minor elements the average flux from highest to lowest was in the order of Fe > Al > Zn > Mn > Sr > Pb > Ba > Cu > Se. There was a significant effect of location on flux of K, Sb, Sn, Li, Mn, Fe, Cu, Zn, Ba, Pb and SO24 but not other metals or anions. Overall the water quality resulting from the deposition (wet + dry) was good but 10.3%, 1.7% and 17.7% of samples had concentrations of Pb, Cd and Fe respectively greater than the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG). This generally occurred in the drier months. In comparison 14.2% and 6.1% of tank samples had total Pb and Zn concentrations exceeding the guidelines. The cumulative mean concentration of lead in deposition was on average only 1/4 of that in tank water over the year at a site with high concentrations of Pb in tank water. This is an indication that deposition from the atmosphere is not the major contributor to high lead concentrations in urban rainwater tanks in a city with reasonable air quality, though it is still a significant portion.
Keyword Urban water
Atmospheric deposition
Bulk deposition
Heavy metals
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: National Research Centre for Environmental Toxicology Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 38 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Thu, 03 Sep 2009, 18:17:16 EST by Mr Andrew Martlew on behalf of National Res Centre For Environmental Toxicology