Toxicities of 48 pharmaceuticals and their freshwater and marine environmental assessment in northwestern France


A risk assessment for freshwater and marine ecosystems is presented for 48 pharmaceutical compounds, belonging to 16 therapeutic classes, and prescribed in northwestern France. Ecotoxicity data were obtained on two freshwater organisms, i.e., crustacean Daphnia magna and the green algae Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata, and on two marine organisms, i.e., the crustacean Artemia salina and the diatom Skeletonema marinoi. Measured environmental concentrations (MEC), in the Orne River and sea off Merville-Franceville in the Basse-Normandie region, were compared to the predicted environmental concentrations (PEC). Predicted no-effect concentrations (PNEC) were derived from acute data for each compound. Then, a risk assessment for each compound and the mixture was performed by calculating risk quotients (RQ as PEC or MEC/PNEC ratio). Results showed that no immediate acute toxicities were expected even if some compounds displayed strong toxicities at very low concentrations. Antibiotics, antidepressants, and antifungals would deserve attention because of their high or median ecological risk suspected on marine and freshwater ecosystems. Marine ecosystems would be more sensitive to pharmaceutical residues.

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This work is a contribution to the Pharm@Ecotox project funded by the French National Research Agency (ANR, fr: Agence Nationale de la Recherche). Ronan Bureau is greatly acknowledged for his help in extrapolation of predicted environmental concentrations.

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Correspondence to Laetitia Minguez.

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Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

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Minguez, L., Pedelucq, J., Farcy, E. et al. Toxicities of 48 pharmaceuticals and their freshwater and marine environmental assessment in northwestern France. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23, 4992–5001 (2016).

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  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Aquatic environment
  • Fate
  • Ecotoxicity
  • PEC
  • MEC
  • Risk