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Mar Pollut Bull. 2004 Sep;49(5-6):436-44.

The occurrence of selected human pharmaceutical compounds in UK estuaries.

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  • 1Burnham Laboratory and Aquaculture Science, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), Remembrance Avenue, Burnham on Crouch, Essex, CM0 8HA, UK.


This report describes a scoping study conducted in order to establish whether pharmaceutical compounds may be present in UK estuaries. Surface water samples collected from five UK estuaries were analysed for the presence of 14 pharmaceutical compounds selected from the priority lists of the UK Environment Agency and the Oslo and Paris Commission (OSPAR). The pharmaceutical compounds/metabolites clofibric acid, clotrimazole, dextropropoxyphene, diclofenac, ibuprofen, mefenamic acid, propranolol, tamoxifen and trimethoprim were detected at measurable concentrations in the samples collected. The concentrations of erythromycin, lofepramine, paracetamol, sulfamethoxazole and acetyl-sulfamethoxazole were all below the limits of detection of the methods used (between 4 and 20 ng l(-1)). The anti-fungal agent clotrimazole was the most frequently detected at a maximal concentration of 22 ng l(-1) and a median concentration of 7 ng l(-1). The analgesic compound ibuprofen was detected at a maximal concentration of approximately 930 ng l(-1) and a median concentration of 48 ng l(-1), whilst the other pharmaceutical compounds were detected between the limits of detection of the method used and 570 ng l(-1).

Copyright 2004 Elsevier Ltd.

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