The ubiquitous occurrence of emerging micropollutants (EMPs) in water is an issue of growing environmental-health concern worldwide. However, there remains a paucity of data regarding their levels and occurrence in water. This study determined the occurrence of EMPs namely: carbamazepine (CBZ), galaxolide (HHCB), caffeine (CAF), tonalide (AHTN), 4-nonylphenol (NP), and bisphenol A (BPA) in water from Gauteng, Mpumalanga, and North West provinces, South Africa using comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography coupled to high resolution time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GCxGC-HRTOFMS). Kruskal-Wallis test and ANOVA were performed to determine temporal variations in occurrence of the EMPs. Principal component analysis (PCA) and Surfer Golden Graphics software for surface mapping were used to determine spatial variations in levels and occurrence of the EMPs. The mean levels ranged from 11.22 ± 18.8 ng/L for CAF to 158.49 ± 662 ng/L for HHCB. There was no evidence of statistically significant temporal variations in occurrence of EMPs in water. Nevertheless, their levels and occurrence vary spatially and are a function of two principal components (PCs, PC1 and PC2) which controlled 89.99% of the variance. BPA was the most widely distributed EMP, which was present in 62% of the water samples. The detected EMPs pose ecotoxicological risks in water samples, especially those from Mpumalanga province.
Keywords: GCxGC-HRTOFMS; drinking water; emerging micropollutants; spatial variations; wastewater.