Gadolimium, a Rare Earth Element becoming a human contaminant and tracer of wastewater discharge in the ocean

Gadolinium (Gd) is increasingly used in contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging. It is therefore released in the wastes of hospitals and research centres.

As a consequence, Hatje and collaborators (2016, see reference below) showed that anthropogenic Gd concentrations in San Francisco Bay increased by an order of magnitude over the past 2 decades, even reaching the northeast Pacific coastal waters. Beyond the fact that such input might be used as tracers of wastewater discharges and hydrological processes, such impressive environmental change suggests that more effective treatment technologies may be necessary to minimise future contamination by chemical elements specially rare earth elements (REE, such as Gd) that are critical for the development of new technologies.

16 Hatje l
Figure: Evolving concentrations of Gd from anthropogenic sources (Gdanth) in San Francisco Bay is a clear example of the changing scenario of REE cycles in coastal environments.


Hatje, V., Bruland, K. W., & Flegal, A. R. (2016). Increases in Anthropogenic Gadolinium Anomalies and Rare Earth Element Concentrations in San Francisco Bay over a 20 Year Record. Environmental Science & Technology, 50(8), 4159–4168. doi:10.1021/acs.est.5b04322

Latest highlights

Science Highlights

The most important thorium-234 disequilibrium compilation you ever saw

Elena Ceballos-Romero and her colleagues propose a comprehensive global oceanic compilation of Thorium-234 measurements.


Science Highlights

Machine learning approach led to the first iron climatology

Huang and co-workers propose the first data-driven surface-to-seafloor dissolved iron climatology.


Science Highlights

Insight on the aluminium cycling during the inter-monsoon period in the Arabian Sea and Equatorial Indian Ocean

Full vertical water column profiles were established by Singh and Singh along the GI05 transect in the Indian Ocean during the fall inter-monsoon period in 2015.

Science Highlights

Distributions, boundary inputs, and scavenging processes of trace metals in the East Sea (Japan Sea)

Seo and his colleagues show pronounced atmospheric and shelf inputs of trace elements in the Japan Sea.