Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

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


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.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5



Domestic wastewater influent


Domestic wastewater effluent


Domestic and industrial wastewater influent


Domestic and industrial wastewater effluent


Domestic and hospital wastewater influent


Domestic and hospital wastewater effluent


Domestic, hospital, and industrial wastewater influent


Domestic, hospital, and industrial wastewater effluent


Slaughterhouse wastewater influent


Slaughterhouse wastewater effluent


Leachate, domestic and industrial wastewater influent


Leachate, domestic and industrial wastewater effluent


Predominantly domestic wastewater influent


Predominantly domestic wastewater effluent


Hospital wastewater influent


Hospital wastewater effluent

DW :

Drinking water

SW :

Surface water

GW :


SeaW :


EW :

Estuary water

LE :

Leachate from landfills


  1. van der Aa M, Bijlsma L, Emke E et al (2013) Risk assessment for drugs of abuse in the Dutch watercycle. Water Res 47:1848–1857.

  2. Abreu MS, Koakoski G, Ferreira D et al (2014) Diazepam and fluoxetine decrease the stress response in zebrafish. PLoS One 9:1–5.

  3. Abreu MS, Giacomini ACV, Gusso D et al (2016) Acute exposure to waterborne psychoactive drugs attract zebrafish. Comp Biochem Physiol Part - C Toxicol Pharmacol 179:37–43.

  4. Almeida CAA, Brenner CGB, Minetto L et al (2013) Determination of anti-anxiety and anti-epileptic drugs in hospital effluent and a preliminary risk assessment. Chemosphere 93:2349–2355.

  5. Almeida CAA, Oliveira MS, Mallmann CA, Martins AF (2015) Determination of the psychoactive drugs carbamazepine and diazepam in hospital effluent and identification of their metabolites. Environ Sci Pollut Res 22:17192–17201.

  6. Assi S, Thomas J, Haffar M, Osselton D (2016) Exploring consumer and patient knowledge, behavior, and attitude toward medicinal and lifestyle products purchased from the internet: a web-based survey. JMIR public Heal Surveill 2:e34.

  7. Bachhuber MA, Hennessy S, Cunningham CO, Starrels JL (2016) Increasing benzodiazepine prescriptions and overdose mortality in the United States, 1996-2013. Am J Public Health 106:686–688.

  8. Belfroid A, Velzen MV, Horst BVD, Vethaak D (2002) Occurrence of bisphenol A in surface water and uptake in fish: evaluation of field measurements. Chemosphere 49:97–103

  9. Bolong N, Ismail AF, Salim MR, Matsuura T (2009) A review of the effects of emerging contaminants in wastewater and options for their removal. Desalination 238:229–246.

  10. Bouissou-Schurtz C, Houeto P, Guerbet M et al (2014) Ecological risk assessment of the presence of pharmaceutical residues in a French national water survey. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 69:296–303.

  11. Brodin T, Fick J, Jonsson M, Klaminder J (2013) Dilute concentrations of a psychiatric drug alter behavior of fish from natural populations. Science 339:814–815

  12. Brodin T, Piovano S, Fick J et al (2014) Ecological effects of pharmaceuticals in aquatic systems—impacts through behavioural alterations. Phil Trans R Soc B 369:1–10

  13. Caldas SS, Gonçalves FF, Primel EG, Prestes OD, Martins ML, Zanella R (2011) Modern techniques of sample preparation for pesticide residues determination in water by liquid chromatography with detection by diode array and mass spectrometry. Quim Nova 34:1604–1617.

  14. Calisto V, Esteves VI (2009) Psychiatric pharmaceuticals in the environment. Chemosphere 77:1257–1274.

  15. Castiglioni S, Thomas KV, Kasprzyk-Hordern B et al (2014) Testing wastewater to detect illicit drugs: state of the art, potential and research needs. Sci Total Environ 487:613–620.

  16. Catalá M, Domínguez-Morueco N, Migens A et al (2015) Elimination of drugs of abuse and their toxicity from natural waters by photo-Fenton treatment. Sci Total Environ 520:198–205.

  17. Chen CE, Zhang H, Ying GG et al (2015) Passive sampling: a cost-effective method for understanding antibiotic fate, behaviour and impact. Environ Int 85:284–291.

  18. Chiffre A, Clérandeau C, Dwoinikoff C et al (2016) Psychotropic drugs in mixture alter swimming behaviour of Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes) larvae above environmental concentrations. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23:4964–4977.

  19. Corazza O, Bersani FS, Brunoro R et al (2014a) The diffusion of performance and image-enhancing drugs (PIEDs) on the Internet: the abuse of the cognitive enhancer piracetam. Subst Use Misuse:1–8.

  20. Corazza O, Valeriani G, Bersani FS et al (2014b) “Spice,” “kryptonite,” “black mamba”: an overview of brand names and marketing strategies of novel psychoactive substances on the web. J Psychoactive Drugs 46:287–294.

  21. Creusot N, Kinani S, Balaguer P et al (2010) Evaluation of an hPXR reporter gene assay for the detection of aquatic emerging pollutants: screening of chemicals and application to water samples. Anal Bioanal Chem 396:569–583.

  22. Deblonde T, Cossu-Leguille C, Hartemann P (2011) Emerging pollutants in wastewater: a review of the literature. Int J Hyg Environ Health 214:442–448.

  23. Dias NC, Poole CF (2002) Mechanistic study of the sorption properties of OASIS® HLB and its use in solid-phase extraction. Chromatographia 56:269–275.

  24. Diehl A, Cordeiro EA, Laranjeira R (2010) Pharmacological treatments for chemical dependence. From scientific evidence to chemical practice. Artmed, São Paulo (In Portuguese)

  25. Esteban S, Valcárcel Y, Catalá M, Castromil MG (2012) Psychoactive pharmaceutical residues in the watersheds of Galicia (Spain). Gac Sanit 26:457–459.

  26. Farré MJ, Insa S, Mamo J, Barceló D (2016) Determination of 15 N-nitrosodimethylamine precursors in different water matrices by automated on-line solid-phase extraction ultra-high-performance-liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. J Chromatogr A 1458:99–111.

  27. Fatta-Kassinos D, Meric S, Nikolaou A (2011) Pharmaceutical residues in environmental waters and wastewater: current state of knowledge and future research. Anal Bioanal Chem 399:251–275.

  28. Fedorova G, Golovko O, Randak T, Grabic R (2014) Storage effect on the analysis of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in wastewater. Chemosphere 111:55–60.

  29. Feng L, van Hullebusch ED, Rodrigo MA et al (2013) Removal of residual anti-inflammatory and analgesic pharmaceuticals from aqueous systems by electrochemical advanced oxidation processes. A review Chem Eng J 228:944–964

  30. Ferreira AP (2014) Environmental investigation of psychiatric pharmaceuticals: Guandu River, Rio De Janeiro State, Southeast Brazil. J Chem Heal Risks 4:25–32

  31. Fick J, Soderstrom H, Lindberg RH et al (2009) Contamination of surface, ground, and drinking water from pharmaceutical production. Environ Toxicol Chem 28:2522–2527

  32. Flyborg L, Björlenius B, Persson KM (2010) Can treated municipal wastewater be reused after ozonation and nanofiltration? Results from a pilot study of pharmaceutical removal in Henriksdal WWTP, Sweden. Water Sci Technol 61:1113–1120.

  33. Fong PP, Hoy CM (2012) Antidepressants (venlafaxine and citalopram) cause foot detachment from the substrate in freshwater snails at environmentally relevant concentrations. Mar Freshw Behav Physiol 45:145–153.

  34. Fong PP, Molnar N (2013) Antidepressants cause foot detachment from substrate in five species of marine snail. Mar Environ Res 84:24–30.

  35. Gelatti U, Pedrazzani R, Marcantoni C et al (2013) ‘You’ve got m@il: fluoxetine coming soon!’: accessibility and quality of a prescription drug sold on the web. Int J Drug Policy 24:392–401.

  36. Gracia-Lor E, Sancho JV, Hernández F (2011) Multi-class determination of around 50 pharmaceuticals, including 26 antibiotics, in environmental and wastewater samples by ultra-high performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. J Chromatogr A 1218:2264–2275.

  37. Gros M, Petrović M, Ginebreda A, Barceló D (2010) Removal of pharmaceuticals during wastewater treatment and environmental risk assessment using hazard indexes. Environ Int 36:15–26.

  38. Gros M, Rodríguez-Mozaz S, Barceló D (2012) Fast and comprehensive multi-residue analysis of a broad range of human and veterinary pharmaceuticals and some of their metabolites in surface and treated waters by ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography coupled to quadrupole-linear ion trap tandem. J Chromatogr A 1248:104–121.

  39. Gros M, Blum KM, Jernstedt H et al (2017) Screening and prioritization of micropollutants in wastewaters from on-site sewage treatment facilities. J Hazard Mater 328:37–45.

  40. Guo J, Sinclair CJ, Selby K, Boxall ABA (2016) Toxicological and ecotoxicological risk-based prioritization of pharmaceuticals in the natural environment. Environ Toxicol Chem 35:1550–1559.

  41. Hey G, Grabic R, Ledin A et al (2012) Oxidation of pharmaceuticals by chlorine dioxide in biologically treated wastewater. Chem Eng J 185–186:236–242.

  42. Hörsing M, Kosjek T, Andersen HR et al (2012) Fate of citalopram during water treatment with O3, ClO2, UV and fenton oxidation. Chemosphere 89:129–135.

  43. Huber MM, Korhonen S, Ternes TA, von Gunten U (2005) Oxidation of pharmaceuticals during water treatment with chlorine dioxide. Water Res 39:3607–3617.

  44. Huerta-Fontela M, Galceran MT, Ventura F (2010) Fast liquid chromatography–quadrupole-linear ion trap mass spectrometry for the analysis of pharmaceuticals and hormones in water resources. J Chromatogr A 1217:4212–4222.

  45. INCB (2015) International Narcotics Contol Board psychotropic substances—statistics for 2013. UNITED NATIONS, New York

  46. Jardim ICSF (2010) Solid phase extraction: theoretical basics and new strategies for solid phase preparation. Sci Chromatogr 2:13–25 (In Portuguese)

  47. Jelic A, Gros M, Ginebreda A et al (2011) Occurrence, partition and removal of pharmaceuticals in sewage water and sludge during wastewater treatment. Water Res 45:1165–1176.

  48. Jelic A, Rodriguez-Moza S, Barceló D, Gutierrez O (2015) Impact of in-sewer transformation on 43 pharmaceuticals in a pressurized sewer under anaerobic conditions. Water Res 68:98–108.

  49. Kalichak F, Idalencio R, Rosa JGS et al (2016) Waterborne psychoactive drugs impair the initial development of Zebrafish. Environ Toxicol Pharmacol 41:89–94.

  50. Kellner M, Porseryd T, Porsch-Hällström I et al (2015) Environmentally relevant concentrations of citalopram partially inhibit feeding in the three-spine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). Aquat Toxicol 158:165–170.

  51. Kellner M, Porseryd T, Hallgren S et al (2016) Waterborne citalopram has anxiolytic effects and increases locomotor activity in the three-spine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). Aquat Toxicol 173:19–28.

  52. Klaminder J, Jonsson M, Fick J et al (2014) The conceptual imperfection of aquatic risk assessment tests: highlighting the need for tests designed to detect therapeutic effects of pharmaceutical contaminants. Environ Res Lett 9:1–7.

  53. Kosjek T, Perko S, Zupanc M et al (2012) Environmental occurrence, fate and transformation of benzodiazepines in water treatment. Water Res 46:355–368.

  54. Kovacevic S, Radisic M, Lausevic M, Dimkic M (2017) Occurrence and behavior of selected pharmaceuticals during riverbank filtration in the Republic of Serbia. Environ Sci Pollut Res 24:2075–2088.

  55. Kwon J-W, Armbrust KL (2005) Degradation of citalopram by simulated sunlight. Environ Toxicol Chem 24:1618–1623.

  56. Lajeunesse A, Gagnon C, Sauvé S (2008) Determination of basic antidepressants and their N-desmethyl metabolites in raw sewage and wastewater using solid-phase extraction and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Anal Chem 80:5325–5333.

  57. Lanças FM (2004) Solid phase extraction (SPE). RiMa, São Carlos (In Portuguese)

  58. Lanças FM (2009) Modern liquid chromatography: HPLC, 1a edition. Átomo, Campinas. (In Portuguese)

  59. Li WC (2014) Occurrence, sources, and fate of pharmaceuticals in aquatic environment and soil. Environ Pollut 187:193–201.

  60. Li Y, Zhu G, Ng WJ, Tan SK (2014) A review on removing pharmaceutical contaminants from wastewater by constructed wetlands: design, performance and mechanism. Sci Total Environ 468–469:908–932.

  61. Loos R, Carvalho R, António DC et al (2013) EU-wide monitoring survey on emerging polar organic contaminants in wastewater treatment plant effluents. Water Res 47:6475–6487.

  62. López-Serna R, Jurado A, Vázquez-Suñé E et al (2013) Occurrence of 95 pharmaceuticals and transformation products in urban groundwaters underlying the metropolis of Barcelona, Spain. Environ Pollut 174:305–315.

  63. Lorenzo-Toja Y, Alfonsín C, Amores MJ et al (2016) Beyond the conventional life cycle inventory in wastewater treatment plants. Sci Total Environ 553:71–82.

  64. Lu Z, Gan J (2014) Analysis, toxicity, occurrence and biodegradation of nonylphenol isomers: a review. Environ Int 73:334–345.

  65. Luo Y, Guo W, Ngo HH et al (2014) A review on the occurrence of micropollutants in the aquatic environment and their fate and removal during wastewater treatment. Sci Total Environ 473–474:619–641.

  66. Machado KC, Grassi MT, Vidal C et al (2016) A preliminary nationwide survey of the presence of emerging contaminants in drinking and source waters in Brazil. Sci Total Environ 572:138–146.

  67. MacKey TK, Nayyar G (2016) Digital danger: a review of the global public health, patient safety and cybersecurity threats posed by illicit online pharmacies. Br Med Bull 118:115–131.

  68. Mackuľak T, Mosný M, Škubák J et al (2015) Fate of psychoactive compounds in wastewater treatment plant and the possibility of their degradation using aquatic plants. Environ Toxicol Pharmacol 39:969–973.

  69. Magnusson B, Örnemark U (2014) Eurachem guide: the fitness for purpose of analytical methods—a laboratory guide to method validation and related topics, second edition

  70. Mara D (2013) Domestic wastewater treatment in developing countries., 1 edition. Routledge, New York

  71. Minguez L, Halm-Lemeille M-P, Costil K et al (2014) Assessment of cytotoxic and immunomodulatory properties of four antidepressants on primary cultures of abalone hemocytes (Haliotis tuberculata). Aquat Toxicol 153:3–11.

  72. Mitra S (2003) Sample preparation techniques in analytical chemistry. John Wiley & Sons, New Jersey

  73. Monteith S, Glenn T, Bauer R et al (2016) Availability of prescription drugs for bipolar disorder at online pharmacies. J Affect Disord 193:59–65.

  74. Oller I, Malato S, Sánchez-Pérez J a. (2011) Combination of advanced oxidation processes and biological treatments for wastewater decontamination—a review. Sci Total Environ 409:4141–4166.

  75. Omar TFT, Ahmad A, Aris AZ, Yusoff FM (2016) Endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) in environmental matrices: review of analytical strategies for pharmaceuticals, estrogenic hormones, and alkylphenol compounds. TrAC - Trends Anal Chem 85:241–259.

  76. Orsolini L, Papanti D, Corkery J, Schifano F (2017) An insight into the deep web; why it matters for addiction psychiatry? Hum Psychopharmacol 32:1–7.

  77. Ort C, Lawrence MG, Rieckermann J, Joss A (2010) Sampling for pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) and illicit drugs in wastewater systems: are your conclusions valid? A critical review. Environ Sci Technol 44:6024–6035

  78. Ostadhadi-Dehkordi S, Tabatabaei-Sameni M, Forootanfar H et al (2012) Degradation of some benzodiazepines by a laccase-mediated system in aqueous solution. Bioresour Technol 125:344–347.

  79. Overturf CL, Overturf MD, Huggett DB (2016) Bioconcentration and endocrine disruption effects of diazepam in channel catfish, Ictalurus punctatus. Comp Biochem Physiol Part C 183–184:46–52.

  80. Petrovic M (2014) Methodological challenges of multi-residue analysis of pharmaceuticals in environmental samples. Trends Environ Anal Chem 1:e25–e33.

  81. Queiroz MEC, Lanças FM (2005) Analysis of drugs in biological samples: automated “in-tube” solid-phase microextraction and high performance liquid chromatography. Quim Nova 28:880–886. (in Portuguese)

  82. Queiroz SCN, Collins CH, Jardim ICSF (2001) Methods of extraction and/or concentration of compounds found in biological fluids for subsequent chromatographic determination. Quim Nova 24:68–76. (in Portuguese)

  83. Racamonde I, Rodil R, Quintana JB et al (2014) Determination of benzodiazepines, related pharmaceuticals and metabolites in water by solid-phase extraction and liquid-chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry. J Chromatogr A 1352:69–79.

  84. Richard J, Boergers A, vom Eyser C et al (2014) Toxicity of the micropollutants bisphenol A, ciprofloxacin, metoprolol and sulfamethoxazole in water samples before and after the oxidative treatment. Int J Hyg Environ Health 217:506–514.

  85. Rivera-Utrilla J, Sánchez-Polo M, Ferro-García MÁ et al (2013) Pharmaceuticals as emerging contaminants and their removal from water. A Review Chemosphere 93:1268–1287.

  86. Rivetti C, Campos B, Barata C (2016) Low environmental levels of neuro-active pharmaceuticals alter phototactic behaviour and reproduction in Daphnia magna. Aquat Toxicol 170:289–296.

  87. Ruel SM, Choubert JM, Budzinski H et al (2012) Occurrence and fate of relevant substances in wastewater treatment plants regarding Water Framework Directive and future legislations. Water Sci Technol 65:1179–1189.

  88. Salgueiro-González N, Turnes-Carou I, Besada V et al (2015) Occurrence, distribution and bioaccumulation of endocrine disrupting compounds in water, sediment and biota samples from a European river basin. Sci Total Environ 529:121–130.

  89. Salomão ALS, Marques M (2014) Quantification of alkali-labile phosphate groups in the plasma of Oreochromis niloticus exposed to intermittent discharges of oestrogens: effect of concentration vs. load. Int J Environ Anal Chem 94:1161–1172.

  90. Santos LHMLM, Araújo AN, Fachini A et al (2010) Ecotoxicological aspects related to the presence of pharmaceuticals in the aquatic environment. J Hazard Mater 175:45–95.

  91. Santos LHMLM, Gros M, Rodriguez-Mozaz S et al (2013) Contribution of hospital effluents to the load of pharmaceuticals in urban wastewaters: identification of ecologically relevant pharmaceuticals. Sci Total Environ 461–462:302–316.

  92. Schriks M, Heringa MB, van der Kooi MME et al (2010) Toxicological relevance of emerging contaminants for drinking water quality. Water Res 44:461–476.

  93. Silva LJG, Pereira AMPT, Meisel LM et al (2014) A one-year follow-up analysis of antidepressants in Portuguese wastewaters: occurrence and fate, seasonal influence, and risk assessment. Sci Total Environ 490:279–287.

  94. Silva LJG, Pereira AMPT, Meisel LM et al (2015) Reviewing the serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) footprint in the aquatic biota: uptake, bioaccumulation and ecotoxicology. Environ Pollut 197:127–143.

  95. Snyder SA, Adham S, Redding AM et al (2007) Role of membranes and activated carbon in the removal of endocrine disruptors and pharmaceuticals. Desalination 202:156–181.

  96. Sundaram R, Smith BW, Clark TM (2015) pH-dependent toxicity of serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors in taxonomically diverse freshwater invertebrate species. Mar Freshw Res 66:518–525

  97. Tang K, Ooi GTH, Litty K et al (2017) Removal of pharmaceuticals in conventionally treated wastewater by a polishing moving bed biofilm reactor (MBBR) with intermittent feeding. Bioresour Technol 236:77–86.

  98. Tonhi E, Collins KE, Jardim ICSF, Collins CH (2002) Stationary phases for reversed phase high performance liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC) based on functionalized inorganic oxide surfaces. Quim Nova 25:616–623. (In Portuguese)

  99. Unceta N, Sampedro MC, Bakar NKA et al (2010) Multi-residue analysis of pharmaceutical compounds in wastewaters by dual solid-phase microextraction coupled to liquid chromatography electrospray ionization ion trap mass spectrometry. J Chromatogr A 1217:3392–3399.

  100. USEPA (2014) SW-846 test method 8000D: determinative chromatographic separations. 57

  101. USEPA (2016) Method 542: Determination of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in drinking water by solid phase extraction and liquid chromatography electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry (LC/ESI-MS/MS)

  102. Van Donk E, Peacor S, Grosser K et al (2016) Pharmaceuticals may disrupt natural chemical information flows and species interactions in aquatic systems: ideas and perspectives on a hidden global change. Rev Environ Contam Toxicol 238:91–105.

  103. Vanderford BJ, Mawhinney DB, Trenholm RA et al (2011) Assessment of sample preservation techniques for pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and steroids in surface and drinking water. Anal Bioanal Chem 399:2227–2234.

  104. Vasskog T, Anderssen T, Pedersen-Bjergaard S et al (2008) Occurrence of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in sewage and receiving waters at Spitsbergen and in Norway. J Chromatogr A 1185:194–205.

  105. Villanueva CM, Kogevinas M, Cordier S et al (2014) Assessing exposure and health consequences of chemicals in drinking water: current state of knowledge and research needs. Environ Health Perspect 122:213–221.

  106. Vulliet E, Cren-Olivé C, Grenier-Loustalot M-F (2011) Occurrence of pharmaceuticals and hormones in drinking water treated from surface waters. Environ Chem Lett 9:103–114.

  107. Waters (2017a) SPE Oasis Accessed 19 Jan 2017

  108. Waters (2017b) Oasis MCX 6 cc Vac Cartridge Accessed 19 Jan 2017

  109. WESP (2014) World economic situation prospects. UNITED NATIONS, New York

  110. WHO, UNICEF (2012) Progress on drinking water and sanitation: 2012 update. WHO Library

  111. Wick A, Fink G, Joss A et al (2009) Fate of beta blockers and psycho-active drugs in conventional wastewater treatment. Water Res 43:1060–1074.

  112. Wu M, Xiang J, Que C et al (2015) Occurrence and fate of psychiatric pharmaceuticals in the urban water system of Shanghai, China. Chemosphere 138:486–493.

  113. Yuan S, Jiang X, Xia X et al (2013a) Detection, occurrence and fate of 22 psychiatric pharmaceuticals in psychiatric hospital and municipal wastewater treatment plants in Beijing, China. Chemosphere 90:2520–2525.

  114. Yuan S, Li X-F, Jiang X-M et al (2013b) Simultaneous determination of 13 psychiatric pharmaceuticals in sewage by automated solid phase extraction and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Chinese J Anal Chem 41:49–56.

  115. Zhang J, Zhang C (2012) Sampling and sampling strategies for environmental analysis. Int J Environ Anal Chem 92:466–478.

  116. Zhang Z, Ren N, Kannan K et al (2014) Occurrence of endocrine-disrupting phenols and estrogens in water and sediment of the Songhua River, northeastern China. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 66:361–369.

  117. Zuccato E, Calamari D, Natangelo M, Fanelli R (2000) Presence of therapeutic drugs in the environment. Lancet 355:1789–1790.

Download references


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.

Author information

Correspondence to Marcia Marques.

Additional information

Responsible editor: Ester Heath

Electronic supplementary material


(PDF 1206 kb).


(PDF 883 kb).


(XLSX 264 kb).


(PDF 122 kb).

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

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).

Download citation


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