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Chemosphere. 2006 Dec;65(11):2253-9. Epub 2006 Jul 10.

Can aquatic distribution of human pharmaceuticals be related to pharmacological data?

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  • 1CSIRO Land and Water, PMB 2, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia.


The recognition of pharmaceuticals as significant environmental contaminants has only been a recent phenomenon. Therefore there is a paucity of data relating to the fate and effects of pharmaceuticals once they enter an aquatic receiving system. The amount of work that needs to be done in terms of risk assessment for pharmaceuticals required by regulatory agencies is substantial. This paper has determined the environmental partitioning coefficient (K(d)) of 13 diverse human pharmaceuticals in three model systems of differing combinations of solid phases and solutions. The K(d) values were then compared with distribution values of the pharmaceuticals in the human body determined from pharmacological studies. This was done to assess the functional relationship between K(d) and distribution values in the human body (V(D)). K(d) values ranged from 3 to 2450 L kg(-1). Regression coefficients ranged from r(2)=0.62-0.72, indicating that V(D) values are a useful indicator for the K(d) values of the tested pharmaceuticals within the batch sorption systems. The relationship between K(d) and V(D) should therefore be further explored to determine whether this relationship can be applied to a broader range of pharmaceuticals in more diverse environmental systems. Exploiting available human pharmacological data in such a way would be of great benefit in prioritising human pharmaceuticals as environmental contaminants in the risk assessment process.

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