Micropollutant Point Sources in the Built Environment: Identification and Monitoring of Priority Pharmaceutical Substances in Hospital Effluents
- Corresponding Author:
- Ole Pahl
School of Engineering and Built Environment
Glasgow Caledonian University, Cowcaddens Road
Glasgow, G4 0BA, UK
E-Mail: [email protected]
Received May 17, 2013; Accepted July 08, 2013; Published July 10, 2013
Citation: Helwig K, Hunter C, MacLachlan J, McNaughtan M, Roberts J, et al. (2013) Micropollutant Point Sources in the Built Environment: Identification and Monitoring of Priority Pharmaceutical Substances in Hospital Effluents. J Environ Anal Toxicol 3:177. doi: 10.4172/2161-0525.1000177
Copyright: © 2013 Helwig K, et al. This is an open - access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
A method is described for the identification of priority micropollutants (pharmaceuticals) in the aquatic environment originating from hospitals. The lack of data on the range and volume of prescribed pharmaceuticals, and on their behaviour in the environment, presented a considerable challenge to the initial selection process. The final selection of pharmaceutical substances to be included in the monitoring campaigns was based on literature data, existing priority lists, national consumption patterns and expert input from within the regions (Northwest Europe). Fifteen micropollutant compounds were identified from the diverse range of reported and prescribed pharmaceuticals in the healthcare sector:atenolol, carbamazepine, diclofenac, naproxen, lidocaine, ifosphamide, cyclophosphamide, ciprofloxacin, erythromycin, clarithromycin, sulfamethoxazole, iopromide, iopamidol, diatrizoate, and bezafibrate. Eight hospital locations in six countries were monitored for periods ranging from several weeks to one year. Samples were taken from hospital effluent (sewers) flow-proportionally and analysed by LC-MS-MS. The obtained results indicate that hospitals are significant point sources for some (especially x-ray contrast media and antibacterials) but not all pharmaceutical micropollutants. Hospital contribution to overall load in the sewers at entry to waste water treatment plants ranged from <10% for substances also used in the communities (e.g. diclofenac and atenolol), to well in excess of 50% for antibiotics and x-ray contrast media. A detailed understanding of emission pathways within the urban environment is required in order to inform related political decision making. This project demonstrated a route towards this understanding and also highlighted the difficulties and barriers that need to be overcome in the process.