Pharmaceuticals and additives in personal care products as environmental pollutants

Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland

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The application of pharmaceuticals and personal care products is substantial in industrialized and high-income north-western European societies. Faroe Island, Iceland and Greenland are part of this modern society, although some areas are more suffused by technology and modern living than others. This also pertains to the standards of the local solutions for waste water treatment systems, but not so much to the health services. The present report summarises the results of screening analyses of pharmaceuticals and additives in personal care products in presumed hotspots in Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland. The study focuses on sewage lines from households and industry in general, and from hospitals. In all 38 pharmaceuticals or metabolites of pharmaceuticals and 7 personal care products were analysed.




Because the study only includes pharmaceuticals used by humans and personal care substances, it was a natural choice to confine sampling to sites where sewage water from urban areas as well as hospitals is discharged to the recipient. Also, in areas where waste water treatment plants, WWTP’s, are in place, it was chosen to analyse the sewage water on various sites in the treatment process. Thus, when sampling was done at WWTP’s, samples were taken of waste water as it entered the WWTP that is influent water, and it was taken after purification in the WWTP, that is effluent water and this represents the water as it is discharged to the recipient. Also, samples were taken from sludge in the WWTP and, when possible, from sediments and water in the recipient. The rationale for sampling influent and effluent water was to get a glimpse of the effectivity of the purification process although the simplified nature of the sampling method does not allow rigorous conclusions.


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