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Sci Total Environ. 2008 Jul 25;399(1-3):96-104. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2008.03.027. Epub 2008 May 2.

A comparison of human pharmaceutical concentrations in raw municipal wastewater and yellowwater.

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  • 1Institute of Wastewater Management and Water Protection, Hamburg University of Technology, 21071 Hamburg, Germany. m.winker@tuhh.de


Currently, many articles report on pharmaceutical residues detected in various compartments of the environment. A major pathway into the aquatic environment is municipal wastewater. This article discusses the relevance of yellowwater (urine) as pharmaceutical source within this wastewater stream. Literature data about concentrations of 28 pharmaceutical residues detected in raw wastewater are compared to their theoretically calculated concentrations in urine. The study shows that these pharmaceuticals and their metabolites are excreted predominantly via urine although some substances show reasonable excretion via faeces. It is demonstrated that the influence of pharmacokinetic activities is one important issue affecting the presence of pharmaceuticals in the aquatic environment. Nevertheless, only a weak correlation between concentrations of pharmaceuticals calculated in yellowwater and analysed in raw wastewater was observed. This is due to environmental effects taking place between the excretion of urine and the entrance of sewerage into the wastewater treatment plant. The data show that urine separation and separate handling/treatment of this wastewater stream represents a promising approach to protect the aquatic environment safely from human pharmaceuticals.

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