An enormous range of pharmaceuticals, from painkillers to chemotherapy drugs, is entering our rivers and waterways via wastewater.
The concentrations are tiny, but drug pollution has had unexpected and at times devastating impacts on plants and animals. Ecotoxicologists and health experts alike are calling for a concerted effort to better understand how pharmaceuticals behave in the natural environment.
This Special Health Report program has been prepared by Corinne Podger.
Read the full transcript Pharmaceuticals in the environment
Micropollutants are emerging as a new challenge to the scientific community. This review provides a summary of the recent occurrence of micropollutants in the aquatic environment including sewage, surface water, groundwater and drinking water.
The discharge of treated effluent has been a major pathway for the introduction of micropollutants to surface water. Water treatment facilities act as primary barriers against the spread of micropollutants.
Removal efficiency of the selected micropollutants in 14 countries/regions shows a compound-specific variation in removal, ranging from 12.5 to 100%. Biodegradation is a significant removal pathway for some pharmaceuticals and steroid hormones but it is of minor importance for antibiotics and pesticides.
Advanced treatment processes, such as activated carbon adsorption, advanced oxidation processes, reverse osmosis, and membrane bioreactors can achieve higher and more consistent micropollutants removal. However, no matter what technology is employed, the removal of micropollutants depends on phsyico-chemical properties of micropollutants and the treatment conditions. Additionally, a better monitoring of micropollutants in surface waters is essential for effectively predicting micropollutants’ impacts on the receiving environment.
Read the full Document Micropollutants in the aquatic environment