Pharmaceuticals in groundwater : a literature review

University essay from Lunds universitet/Geologiska institutionen

Abstract: Pharmaceuticals are contaminating the environment from sources like landfills, hospitals, irrigation with treated wastewater, septic systems and urban areas. This literature review provides an insight into the situation of how and where pharmaceuticals are contaminating groundwater around the world. Many important factors have been stated to control the occurrence and fate of pharmaceuticals in groundwater. The geological setting and the conditions of the receiving environment are affecting how the transport through the material is occurring. Further- more the chemical and physical properties of the pharmaceuticals themselves control how they interact with the surrounding material and therefore also the concentrations ending up in groundwater. The concentrations levels are generally in the ng/L range but concentrations up to 4000 μg/L have been reported. The pharmaceutical classes that represent the largest group of most frequently found pharmaceuticals are antibiotics and NSAIDs (painkillers). There appears to be a correlation between consumption rates of these classes and detection frequency in the investigations. The most frequently found individual pharmaceutical is carbamazepine and this is probably due to the persistency in the environment of this compound. However these correlations can also be due to how the research- ers chose their selection of pharmaceuticals in their investigations, some have based the selection on consumption rates and others on known persistency of the compounds.

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