Drug residues in the Icelandic environment




Sophie Jensen, Helga Gunnlaugsdóttir, Hrönn Ólína Jörundsdóttir

Supported by:

Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources


Sophie Jensen

Project Manager

Drug residues in the Icelandic environment

The aim of the audit was to assess the theoretical release of drugs into the environment (receptors) in Iceland, with an emphasis on coastal waters, rivers and lakes. For medicinal products used for humans, an assessment was made of the concentration of these medicinal products in the sewerage system in the capital area and in two selected locations outside the capital area. For medicinal products used in agriculture and aquaculture, a theoretical assessment was made of the release of medicinal products from production units where the emissions could be the highest. The potential concentration of the drugs in the receptors was assessed and these values were compared with the expected risk, as there are environmental limits. The drugs that were examined and evaluated were determined on the basis of Icelandic sales figures and the priority list of the European Union's Water Framework Directive, together with the results of previous research. The following human medicinal products were examined: estradiol, ethinyl estradiol, amoxicillin, azithromycin, fluconazole, paracetamol, ibuprofen, diclofenac, metoprolol, fluoxetine, sertraline and the veterinary medicinal products emamectin benzoate (laxalucalicylphenyl). Theoretical evaluation suggests that the levels of ibuprofen, amoxicillin, fluoxetine, paracetamol, diclofenac, azithromycin and sertraline need to be further investigated in sewage treatment plant receptors. The results for the veterinary medicinal product do not indicate a risk of procaine benzylpenicillin used in pig farming or emamectin benzoate used in aquaculture.

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