Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 689–699

Occurrence and removal of lidocaine, tramadol, venlafaxine, and their metabolites in German wastewater treatment plants

Research Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11356-011-0614-1

Cite this article as:
Rúa-Gómez, P.C. & Püttmann, W. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2012) 19: 689. doi:10.1007/s11356-011-0614-1



Some of the pharmaceuticals that are not extensively investigated in the aquatic environment are the anesthetic lidocaine (LDC), the analgesic tramadol (TRA), and the antidepressant venlafaxine (VEN). LDC metabolizes to 2,6-xylidine (2,6-DMA) and monoethylglycinexylidine (MEGX), TRA to O-desmethyltramadol (ODT), and VEN to O-desmethylvenlafaxine (ODV). Within this study, the distribution and behavior of these compounds in German wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) were investigated.


Samples of influents and effluents from WWTPs in Hesse, Germany were collected between January and September 2010. Analytes were extracted from wastewater samples by solid-phase extraction and from solid samples by sonication. Extracts were measured using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry.


LDC, TRA, VEN, ODT, and ODV were detected in all analyzed influent and effluent samples. 2,6-DMA could not be identified. MEGX was not detected. TRA and ODV were present in untreated wastewater at the highest concentrations (max, 1,129 (TRA) and 3,302 ng L−1 (ODV)), while the concentrations of LDC and VEN were all significantly lower (mean, 135 (LDC) and 116 ng L−1 (VEN)). All of the analytes were only partially removed in the WWTPs. The mean ratios between the concentrations of the metabolites and their respective parent compounds in influents were 4.7 (ODV/VEN) and 0.7 (ODT/TRA). These values remain approximately constant comparing influents and effluents.


LDC, TRA, VEN, ODT, and ODV are only partially removed from sewage water by WWTPs and thus are continuously discharged in respective recipient rivers. A further transformation of TRA and VEN into the known metabolites during treatment in the WWTPs is not observed.


WastewaterLidocaineTramadolVenlafaxineMetabolitesWastewater treatment plantRemoval rates

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental Analytical Chemistry, Institute of Atmospheric and Environmental SciencesJ.W. Goethe University Frankfurt am MainFrankfurt am MainGermany