Friday, June 5, 2009

Contamination of surface, ground, and drinking water from pharmaceutical production

Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry

Contamination of surface, ground, and drinking water from pharmaceutical

Jerker Fick1,¤, Hanna Söderström1, Richard H. Lindberg1, Chau Phan1, Mats
Tysklind2, and D. G. Joakim Larsson3
1 Umeå University
2 University of Umea
3 The Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg

Low levels of pharmaceuticals are detected in surface, ground, and drinking
water worldwide. Usage and incorrect disposal have been considered the major
environmental sources of these micro-contaminants. Recent publications,
however, suggest that wastewater from drug production can potentially be a
source of much higher concentrations in certain locations. We investigated
the environmental fate of active pharmaceutical ingredients in a major
production area for the global bulk-drug market. Water samples were taken
from a common effluent treatment plant near Hyderabad, India, which receives
process water from about 90 bulk drug manufacturers. Surface water was
analyzed from the recipient stream and from two lakes that are not
contaminated by the treatment plant. Water samples were also taken from
wells in six nearby villages. The samples were analyzed for the presence of
twelve pharmaceuticals with LC-MS/MS. All wells were determined to be
contaminated with drugs. Ciprofloxacin, enoxacin, cetirizine, terbinafine
and citalopram were detected at >1µg l-1 in several wells. Very high
concentrations of ciprofloxacin (up to 14 mg L-1) and other pharmaceuticals
(up to 2 mg L-1) were found in the effluent of the treatment plant and in
the two lakes (up to 6.5 mg L-1). Thus, insufficient wastewater treatment in
one of the world's largest centers for bulk drug production leads to
unprecedented drug contamination of surface, ground, and drinking water.
This raises serious concerns regarding the development of antibiotic
resistance, and it creates a major challenge for producers and regulatory
agencies to improve the situation.

Received: February 18, 2009; Accepted: April 29, 2009; Published Online: May
18, 2009
DOI: 10.1897/09-073.1

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