, Volume 387, Issue 4, pp 1167-1172
Date: 05 Jan 2007

Trends in human risk assessment of pharmaceuticals

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Pharmaceutical products used in human and veterinary medicine are a class of great importance in our modern society. The scientific community has recently recognized that after elimination from the body of humans and domestic animals, active ingredients are found in treated and untreated sewage effluents, surface water, groundwater, and drinking water [21]. Many therapeutic classes are commonly found, for example anti-inflammatory drugs, cholesterol-lowering drugs (e.g. statins), antidepressants, anticonvulsants, synthetic steroids (e.g. the contraceptive pill), antineoplastics, beta-blockers, bronchodilators, lipid regulators, hypnotics, antibiotics, antiseptics, X-ray contrast agents, and caffeine. Such contamination should be assessed in relation to possible environmental and human risks, because pharmaceutical products are biologically active, for example synthetic hormones which cause endocrine disruption in fish at very low levels of exposure (ng L−1) [27]. Recent reviews describ