Environmental toxicology and risk assessment of pharmaceuticals from hospital wastewater

Escher, Beate I., Baumgartner, Rebekka, Koller, Mirjam, Treyer, Karin, Lienert, Judit and McArdell, Christa S. (2011) Environmental toxicology and risk assessment of pharmaceuticals from hospital wastewater. Water Research, 45 1: 75-92. doi:10.1016/j.watres.2010.08.019

Author Escher, Beate I.
Baumgartner, Rebekka
Koller, Mirjam
Treyer, Karin
Lienert, Judit
McArdell, Christa S.
Title Environmental toxicology and risk assessment of pharmaceuticals from hospital wastewater
Journal name Water Research   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0043-1354
Publication date 2011-01
Year available 2010
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.watres.2010.08.019
Volume 45
Issue 1
Start page 75
End page 92
Total pages 18
Place of publication Lisle, IL, United States
Publisher IWA Publishing
Collection year 2012
Language eng
Formatted abstract
In this paper, we evaluated the ecotoxicological potential of the 100 pharmaceuticals expected to occur in highest quantities in the wastewater of a general hospital and a psychiatric center in Switzerland. We related the toxicity data to predicted concentrations in different wastewater streams to assess the overall risk potential for different scenarios, including conventional biological pretreatment in the hospital and urine source separation. The concentrations in wastewater were estimated with pharmaceutical usage information provided by the hospitals and literature data on human excretion into feces and urine. Environmental concentrations in the effluents of the exposure scenarios were predicted by estimating dilution in sewers and with literature data on elimination during wastewater treatment. Effect assessment was performed using quantitative structure-activity relationships because experimental ecotoxicity data were only available for less than 20% of the 100 pharmaceuticals with expected highest loads. As many pharmaceuticals are acids or bases, a correction for the speciation was implemented in the toxicity prediction model.

The lists of Top-100 pharmaceuticals were distinctly different between the two hospital types with only 37 pharmaceuticals overlapping in both datasets. 31 Pharmaceuticals in the general hospital and 42 pharmaceuticals in the psychiatric center had a risk quotient above 0.01 and thus contributed to the mixture risk quotient. However, together they constituted only 14% (hospital) and 30% (psychiatry) of the load of pharmaceuticals. Hence, medical consumption data alone are insufficient predictors of environmental risk. The risk quotients were dominated by amiodarone, ritonavir, clotrimazole, and diclofenac. Only diclofenac is well researched in ecotoxicology, while amiodarone, ritonavir, and clotrimazole have no or very limited experimental fate or toxicity data available. The presented computational analysis thus helps setting priorities for further testing.

Separate treatment of hospital wastewater would reduce the pharmaceutical load of wastewater treatment plants, and the risk from the newly identified priority pharmaceuticals. However, because high-risk pharmaceuticals are excreted mainly with feces, urine source separation is not a viable option for reducing the risk potential from hospital wastewater, while a sorption step could be beneficial.
Keyword Pharmaceuticals
Quantitative structure-activity relationship
Predicted no-effect concentration
Risk quotient
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Available online 17 August 2010

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2012 Collection
National Research Centre for Environmental Toxicology Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 145 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Sun, 13 Mar 2011, 00:00:08 EST