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Environ Sci Technol. 2005 Jul 15;39(14):5209-18.

Environmental fate of pharmaceuticals in water/sediment systems.

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German Federal Institute of Hydrology, P.O. Box 20 02 53, D-56002 Koblenz, Germany.


In recent years there has been growing interest on the occurrence and the fate of pharmaceuticals in the aquatic environment. Nevertheless, few data are available covering the fate of the pharmaceuticals in the water/sediment compartment. In this study, the environmental fate of 10 selected pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical metabolites was investigated in water/sediment systems including both the analysis of water and sediment. The experiments covered the application of four 14C-labeled pharmaceuticals (diazepam, ibuprofen, iopromide, and paracetamol) for which radio-TLC analysis was used as well as six nonlabeled compounds (carbamazepine, clofibric acid, 10,11-dihydro-10,11-dihydroxycarbamazepine, 2-hydroxyibuprofen, ivermectin, and oxazepam), which were analyzed via LC-tandem MS. Ibuprofen, 2-hydroxyibuprofen, and paracetamol displayed a low persistence with DT50 values in the water/sediment system < or =20 d. The sediment played a key role in the elimination of paracetamol due to the rapid and extensive formation of bound residues. A moderate persistence was found for ivermectin and oxazepam with DT50 values of 15 and 54 d, respectively. Lopromide, for which no corresponding DT50 values could be calculated, also exhibited a moderate persistence and was transformed into at least four transformation products. For diazepam, carbamazepine, 10,11-dihydro-10,11-dihydroxycarbamazepine, and clofibric acid, system DT90 values of >365 d were found, which exhibit their high persistence in the water/sediment system. An elevated level of sorption onto the sediment was observed for ivermectin, diazepam, oxazepam, and carbamazepine. Respective Koc values calculated from the experimental data ranged from 1172 L x kg(-1) for ivermectin down to 83 L x kg(-1) for carbamazepine.

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