Peer review artikel

Occurrence, hazard, and risk of psychopharmaceuticals and illicit drugs in European surface waters


“This study aimed to provide insights into the risk posed by psychopharmaceuticals and illicit drugs in European surface waters, and to identify current knowledge gaps hampering this risk assessment. First, the availability and quality of data on the concentrations of psychopharmaceuticals and illicit drugs in surface waters (occurrence) and on the toxicity to aquatic organisms (hazard) were reviewed. If both occurrence and ecotoxicity data were available, risk quotients (risk) were calculated. Where abundant ecotoxicity data were available, a species sensitivity distribution (SSD) was constructed, from which the hazardous concentration for 5% of the species (HC5) was derived, allowing to derive integrated multi-species risks. A total of 702 compounds were categorised as psychopharmaceuticals and illicit drugs based on a combination of all 502 anatomical therapeutic class (ATC) ‘N’ pharmaceuticals and a list of illicit drugs according to the Dutch Opium Act. Of these, 343 (49%) returned occurrence data, while only 105 (15%) returned ecotoxicity data. Moreover, many ecotoxicity tests used irrelevant endpoints for neurologically active compounds, such as mortality, which may underestimate the hazard of psychopharmaceuticals. Due to data limitations, risks could only be assessed for 87 (12%) compounds, with 23 (3.3%) compounds indicating a potential risk, and several highly prescribed drugs returned neither occurrence nor ecotoxicity data. Primary bottlenecks in risk calculation included the lack of ecotoxicity data, a lack of diversity of test species and ecotoxicological end points, and large disparities between well studied and understudied compounds for both occurrence and toxicity data. This study identified which compounds merit concern, as well as the many compounds that lack the data for any calculation of risk, driving research priorities. Despite the large knowledge gaps, we concluded that the presence of a substantial part (26%) of data-rich psychopharmaceuticals in surface waters present an ecological risk for aquatic non-target organisms.”

(Citation: Davey, C.J.E., Kraak, M.H.S., – Occurrence, hazard, and risk of psychopharmaceuticals and illicit drugs in European surface waters – Water Research 222(2022)art. no. 118878 – DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2022.118878 (Open Access))

Copyright © 1969, Elsevier – This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons CC-BY license

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