Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, Volume 218, Issue 1–4, pp 413–422 | Cite as

Assessment of Pharmaceuticals Fate in a Model Environment

  • Xavier DomènechEmail author
  • Marc Ribera
  • José Peral


A multiphase model based on the Mackay-type level II fugacity model has been used to predict the behaviour and final environmental concentrations of some of the more consumed pharmaceuticals in Spain. The model takes into account the mean rate of consumption of pharmaceuticals, the percentage of pharmaceutical metabolised, the formation of the corresponding glucuronide, which is assumed to be hydrolysed back to the parent molecule, the partial degradation of each pharmaceutical in a conventional sewage treatment plant, and the fate of these substances in a regional model environmental system. Predicted environmental concentrations in air, water, soil, sediments and suspended matter, and the corresponding residence time for each pharmaceutical have been obtained by application of the model. The predicted concentrations of pharmaceuticals in the water phase are of the same order than the measured experimentally, showing that the simple model used to predict the environmental concentrations is suitable for modelling the environmental fate of high water soluble and low volatile organic compounds such as pharmaceuticals products.


Predicted environmental concentration Multiphase model Pharmaceuticals 



The authors want to thank the financial support received from the Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (Spanish Government) through the research project CTQ2008-00178

Supplementary material

11270_2010_655_MOESM1_ESM.doc (69 kb)
ESM Online Resource 1 (DOC 69 kb)
11270_2010_655_MOESM2_ESM.doc (72 kb)
ESM Online Resource 2 (DOC 71.5 kb)


  1. US EPA. (2009). Estimation programs interface suite™ for Microsoft® Windows, v 4.00. Washington: United States Environmental Protection Agency.Google Scholar
  2. Benotti, M. J., Trenholm, R., Vanderford, B., Holady, J. C., Stanford, B. D., & Snyder, S. A. (2009). Pharmaceuticals and endocrine disrupting compounds in US drinking water. Environmental Science & Technology, 43, 597–603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Carballa, M., Omil, F., & Lema, J. M. (2008). Comparison of predicted and measured concentrations of selected pharmaceuticals, fragrances and hormones in Spanish sewage. Chemosphere, 72, 1118–1123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Clark, J., Henry, G., & Mackay, D. (1995). Fugacity analysis and model organic chemical fate in a sewage treatment plant. Environmental Science and Technology, 29, 1488–1494.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). (1993). CalTOX, A multimedia total-exposure model for hazardous-wastes sites part I: executive summary. Prepared for the State of California, Department Toxic Substances Control, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA, UCRL-CR-111456PtI.Google Scholar
  6. EMEA. (2006). Guideline on the environmental risk assessment of medicinal products for human use. CMP/SWP4447/00, European Medicines Agency.Google Scholar
  7. European Commission. (2003). Technical guidance document in support of commission directive 93/67/EEC on Risk Assessment for new notified substances. Commission Regulation No 1488/94 on Risk Assessment for existing substances and Directive 98/8/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the placing of biocidal products on the market. Accessed from Accessed on 27 April 2010.
  8. European Commission. (2004). European Union system for the evaluation of substances 2.0 (EUSES 2.0). Prepared for the European Chemicals Bureau by the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Bilthoven, The Netherlands. Available via the European Chemicals Bureau,
  9. González, S., Català, M., Romo, R., Rodríguez, J. L., Gil de Miguel, A., & Valcárcel, Y. (2010). Pollution by psychoactive pharmaceutical in the rivers of Madrid metropolitan area (Spain). Environment International, 36, 195–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gros, M., Petrovic, M., & Barceló, D. (2007). Wastewater treatment plants as a pathway for aquatic contamination by pharmaceuticals in the Ebro river basin (Northeast Spain). Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 26, 1553–1562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Khetan, S. K., & Collins, T. J. (2007). Human pharmaceuticals in the environment: A challenge to Green Chemistry. Chemical Reviews, 107, 2319–2364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. KNAPPE. (2009). European project: Knowledge and need assessment on pharmaceutical products in environmental waters. Available from: Accessed on 27 April 2010.
  13. Li, H., Helm, P., & Metcalfe, C. (2010). Sampling in the great lakes for pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and endocrine-disrupting substances using the passive polar organic chemical integrative sampler. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 29, 751–762.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Mackay, D. (1979). Finding fugacity feasible. Environmental Science & Technology, 13, 1218–1223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Mackay, D. (1991). Multimedia environmental models. The fugacity approach. Chelsea: Lewis Publishers.Google Scholar
  16. Maltby, L. (2006). Environmental risk assessment in chemicals in the environment. In R. E. Hester & R. M. Harrison (Eds.), Assessing and managing risk. London: RSC Publishing.Google Scholar
  17. Muñoz, I., López-Doval, J., Ricart, M., Villagrasa, M., Brix, R., Geiszinger, A., et al. (2010). Bridging levels of pharmaceuticals in river water with biological community structure in the Llobregat river basin (Northeast Spain). Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 28, 2706–2714.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Radjenovic, J., Petrovic, M., & Barceló, D. (2009). Fate and distribution of pharmaceuticals in wastewater and sewage sludge of the convencional activated sludge (CAS) and advanced membrane bioreactor (MBR) treatment. Water Research, 43, 831–841.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Salvito, D., Senna, R., & Federle, T. (2002). A framework for prioritizing fragrance materials for aquatic risk assessment. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 21, 1301–1308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Sherrer, R., & Howard, S. (1977). Use of distribution coefficients in quantitative structure–activity relations. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, 20, 53–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Spark version 4.5. Sparc performs automatic reasoning in chemistry. Available from Accessed on 27 April 2010.
  22. Ternes, T. A. (1998). Occurrence of drugs in German sewage treatment plants and rivers. Water Research, 32, 3245–3260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Togola, A., & Budzinski, H. (2008). Multi-residue analysis of pharmaceutical compounds in aqueous samples. Journal of Chromatography A, 1177, 150–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Toxnet. Databases on toxicology, hazardous chemicals, environmental health, and toxic releases. Accessed from: Accessed 27 April 2010
  25. US EPA. (2000). Interim guidance for using ready and inherent bidegradability tests to derive input data for multimedia models and wastewater treatment plants models. Available from: Accessed on 27 April 2010.
  26. Vanderford, B., & Snyde, R. S. (2006). Analysis of pharmaceuticals in water by isotope dilution liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry. Environmental Science & Technology, 40, 7312–7320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Yoshida, F., & Topliss, J. (2000). QSAR model for drug human oral bioavailability. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, 43, 2575–2585.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departament de QuímicaUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaCerdanyola del VallèsSpain

Personalised recommendations