Pharmaceuticals in Northern Environments; What, Where and How Much?

image of Pharmaceuticals in Northern Environments; What, Where and How Much?

The present study has investigated and collected sales statistics of pharmaceuticals in Sweden, Norway and Iceland. A literature review of waste water treatment plants (WWTP) and the efficiency of different WWTP techniques was conducted and combined with a literature review of metabolization of pharmaceuticals in humans. These data have been linked and used for calculations of the amount of pharmaceuticals and their metabolites that actually reaches the aquatic recipient. A future recommendation is to include metabolites of pharmaceuticals in environmental impact studies to be able to assess and account for the chemicals that actually pass through a WWTP to the aquatic environment. No large differences regarding pharmaceuticals used were observed, and many were common in both Sweden, Iceland and Norway.




Since most of the pharmaceuticals investigated in this study are metabolised to a large extent in the human body to metabolites, any percentage of “cleaning efficiency” close to 100% for these compounds does not take metabolites into account. However, no/very little research on the removal efficiency of metabolites (as well as re-formation of parental compounds) was found and could therefore not be included in this study. Table S2 is a literature review of treatment efficiencies and techniques. However, the efficiency of some techniques will vary with intensity/ effect (e.g. UV-light, ozone etc) applied and hence, some treatment efficiencies are presented with a rather large range.


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