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Psychoactive drugs: occurrence in aquatic environment, analytical methods, and ecotoxicity—a review

Abstract

This review focused on seven psychoactive drugs being six benzodiazepines (alprazolam, bromazepam, clonazepam, diazepam, lorazepam, and oxazepam) and one antidepressant (citalopram) widely consumed by modern society and detected in different aqueous matrices (drinking water, surface water, groundwater, seawater, estuary water, influent and effluent of wastewater treatment plants). The review included 219 selected scientific papers from which 1642 data/entries were obtained, each entry corresponding to one target compound in one aqueous matrix. Concentrations of all investigated drugs in all aqueous matrices varied from 0.14 to 840,000 ng L−1. Citalopram presented the highest concentrations in the aqueous matrices. Based on the Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney test, differences between wastewater influents and effluents were not significant for most wastewater categories, suggesting that conventional wastewater treatment systems as such do not remove or remove partially these compounds. High-income countries showed much lower concentrations in surface water than the group formed by upper-middle-, lower-middle-, and low-income countries. Regarding analytical methods, solid-phase extraction (SPE) was by far the most used extraction method (83%) and performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) (73%) coupled to mass spectrometry (99%) the most common analytical method. Changes in behavior and in survival rates were the most common effects reported on bioindicators (aquatic species) due to the presence of these drugs in water. Concentrations of psychoactive drugs found in surface waters were most of the time within the range that caused measurable toxic effects in ecotoxicity assays.

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Abbreviations

D-WWI :

Domestic wastewater influent

D-WWE :

Domestic wastewater effluent

DI-WWI :

Domestic and industrial wastewater influent

DI-WWE :

Domestic and industrial wastewater effluent

DH-WWI :

Domestic and hospital wastewater influent

DH-WWE :

Domestic and hospital wastewater effluent

DHI-WWI :

Domestic, hospital, and industrial wastewater influent

DHI-WWE :

Domestic, hospital, and industrial wastewater effluent

S-WWI :

Slaughterhouse wastewater influent

S-WWE :

Slaughterhouse wastewater effluent

LDI-WWI :

Leachate, domestic and industrial wastewater influent

LDI-WWE :

Leachate, domestic and industrial wastewater effluent

PD-WWI :

Predominantly domestic wastewater influent

PD-WWE :

Predominantly domestic wastewater effluent

H-WWI :

Hospital wastewater influent

H-WWE :

Hospital wastewater effluent

DW :

Drinking water

SW :

Surface water

GW :

Groundwater

SeaW :

Seawater

EW :

Estuary water

LE :

Leachate from landfills

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Acknowledgements

The authors acknowledge the financial support by the Coordination and Improvement of Higher Level or Education Personnel (CAPES) to the first and second authors, Processes 1382439/2014 and 1589040/2016, respectively, and by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) Process 310614/2013-9 and the Carlos Chagas Filho Research Support Foundation (FAPERJ) Process 202.994/2015 to the third author.

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Correspondence to Marcia Marques.

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Cunha, D.L., de Araujo, F.G. & Marques, M. Psychoactive drugs: occurrence in aquatic environment, analytical methods, and ecotoxicity—a review. Environ Sci Pollut Res 24, 24076–24091 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-017-0170-4

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Keywords

  • Psychoactive drugs
  • Aqueous matrices
  • Analytical methods
  • Ecotoxicity
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Antidepressant drugs