Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) of drugs: an overview


Chemsafe, Colleretto Giacosa (TO), Italy

Residues of pharmaceutical active principles (APIs) and their potential toxic effects have been recognized  recently as one of the emerging concerns in the scientific community as well as and, more and more, in the general public. The increasing attention on pharmaceuticals as potential pollutants is due to the fact that they can have similar physico-chemical behavior than other xenobiotics which are persistent and/or can produce adverse effects in environmental species. Additionally, we have to consider that APIs are continuously introduced into the environment; this condition may lead to a huge persistence in some cases.

Pharmaceutical residues and/or their metabolites are usually detected in the environment at trace levels, but, even that, low concentration levels (ng/l or µg/L) may induce toxic effects in sensitive species. Some specific classes of APIs like antibiotics and steroids can have specific adverse effects such as respectively induction of resistance in the natural bacterial population or endocrine disruption effects. In this case substance are called EDS (Endocrine Disrupting Substances).

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