Peer-reviewed articles

A first screening and risk assessment of pharmaceuticals and additives in personal care products in waste water, sludge, recipient water and sediment from Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland

Authors: Huber, S., Remberger, M., Kaj, L., Schlabach, M., Jorundsdottir, HO, Vester, J., Arnorsson, M., Mortensen, I., Schwartson, R., Dam, M.

Version: Science of the Total Environment

Publication year: 2016


A screening of a broad range of pharmaceuticals and additives in personal care products (PPCPs) in sub-arctic locations of the Faroe Islands (FO), Iceland (IS) and Greenland (GL) was conducted. In total 36 pharmaceuticals including some metabolites, and seven additives in personal care products were investigated in influent and effluent waters as well as sludge of waste water treatment plants (WWTPs) and in water and sediment of recipients. Concentrations and distribution patterns for PPCPs discharged via sewage lines (SLs) to the marine environment were assessed. Of the 36 pharmaceuticals or metabolites analyzed 33 were found close to or above the limit of detection (LOD) in all or a part of the samples. All of the seven investigated additives in personal care products were detected above the LOD. Some of the analyzed PPCPs occurred in every or almost every sample. Among these were diclofenac, ibuprofen, lidocaine, naproxen, metformin, citalopram, venlafaxine, amiloride, furosemide, metoprolol, sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS) and cetrimonium salt (ATAC-C16). Additionally, the study encompasses ecotoxicological risk assessment of 2/3 of the analyzed PPCPs in recipient and diluted effluent waters. For candesartan only a small margin to levels with unacceptable risks was observed in diluted effluent waters at two locations (FO). Chronic risks for aquatic organisms staying and / or living around WWTP effluent pipe-outlets were indicated for 17β-estradiol and estriol in the three countries. Additives in PCPs were found to pose the greatest risk to the aquatic environment. The surfactants CAPB and ATAC-C16 were found in concentrations resulting in risk factors up to 375 for CAPB and 165 for ATAC-C16 in recipients for diluted effluents from Iggia, Nuuk (GL) and Torshavn (FO) respectively. These results demonstrate a potentially high ecological risk stemming from discharge of surfactants as used in household and industrial detergents as well as additives in personal care products.

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