Trace organic chemical pollutants from the lake waters of San Pablo City, Philippines by targeted and non-targeted analysis

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More than half of the freshwater lakes in the Philippines are small with surface areas of <2 km2. The dynamics in these lakes are different from those in the bigger lakes. This study was conducted to determine the organic pollutants and their sources in three of the seven lakes of San Pablo City in Laguna, Philippines: lakes Palakpakin, Sampaloc, and Pandin. Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC–MS) and Liquid Chromatography - Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) were used in the targeted and non-targeted analysis of the lake water samples. The three lakes are all volcanic crater lakes but are exposed to different anthropogenic activities, which includes domestic activities, livelihood (farming and aquaculture) and eco-tourism.

Due to the presence of rice fields and fruit plantations, chlorpyrifos was detected in the three lakes while other pesticides like cypermethrin, picolinafen and quinoxyfen were additionally found in Lake Sampaloc, which is the biggest of the three lakes and located within the urbanized section of the city. Traces of different surfactants (linear alkylbenzene sulfonates, secondary alkyl sulfonates, alkyl sulfates, alkyl ether sulfates), biocide benzalkonium chloride, insect repellent diethyltoluamide, antibiotics (sulfadiazine and sulfamethoxazole), hypertension drug telmisartan, phosphate-based fire retardants, and artificial sweeteners (acesulfame, cyclamate, saccharin and sucralose) were detected in lakes Sampaloc and Palakpakin. The same surfactants, artificial sweeteners, insect repellant and phosphate-based fire retardants were also found in Lake Pandin, which is mainly used for eco-tourism activities like swimming and boating.

The results of this study suggest that the organic pollutants present in the small lakes can be linked to the various human activities in the immediate lake environment. Because small lakes are more prone to environmental stresses, human activities in the said lakes must be regulated to ensure sustainable development.