Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 11, pp 10966–10976 | Cite as

Predicted environmental concentration and fate of the top 10 most dispensed Australian prescription pharmaceuticals

  • Timothy T. X. Ong
  • Ewan W. Blanch
  • Oliver A. H. Jones
Research Article


A basic environmental risk assessment was carried out for the top 10 dispensed pharmaceuticals in Melbourne, Australia, in contrast to the more commonly assessed measure of the most used drugs by physical mass. This allowed for the evaluation of compounds that had not previously been the subject of risk assessment. Estimations of the possible fate and behaviour of the target pharmaceuticals in sewage treatment plants were also made. The predicted removal rates of most drugs within standard sewage treatment were expected to be low, with the exception of the statins, which had high removal rates. Each pharmaceutical was predicted to be present in Melbourne wastewater at the nanogram per litre range or lower. All compounds were predicted to be of low toxicity risk, although it was not possible to model mixture effects. Atorvastatin and Irbesartan were also found to possess the potential to possibly bioaccumulate in the aquatic food chain but not to the extent that would require regulation or labelling.


Australia Medicines Environmental fate EPI Suite Modelling Wastewater Risk assessment 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Australian Centre for Research on Separation Science (ACROSS), School of ScienceRMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.School of ScienceRMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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