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Environ Monit Assess. 2020 Mar 2;192(4):204. doi: 10.1007/s10661-020-8151-3.

Environmental risk assessment of diclofenac residues in surface waters and wastewater: a hidden global threat to aquatic ecosystem.

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Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Biological Sciences, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, 45320, Pakistan.
Department of Chemistry, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, 45320, Pakistan.
Department of Animal Sciences, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, 45320, Pakistan.
Department of Pharmacy, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, 45320, Pakistan.
Irma Larma Rangel College of Pharmacy, Texas A & M University, Kingsville, TX, USA.
Department of Entomology, University College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences, Islamia University Bahawalpur, Bahawalpur, Punjab, Pakistan.
Department of Entomology and Nematology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, University of California, Davis, CA, USA.
Soil and Water Testing Laboratory, Directorate of Rapid Soil Fertility Survey & Soil Testing Institute, Department of Agriculture, Ayub Agricultural Research Institute, Chiniot, Punjab, Pakistan.
Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry and Applied, Ecochemistry, Department of Applied Analytical and Physical Chemistry, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.
Department of Pathology, Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, PMAS-Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi, Pakistan.
Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Biological Sciences, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, 45320, Pakistan.


Pharmaceuticals are chemical compounds employed as medicinal drugs. They have severe physic-chemical properties which make them destructive for non-target species. Consequently, their continuous addition in the environment may pose hazardous effects. Among these, diclofenac (DCF), a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), is extensively used in Pakistan which may lead to its accumulation in both terrestrial and aquatic environment. Present study aims to assess the presence and concentration of pharmaceutically active drug (DCF) in surface water and wastewater of twin cities of Pakistan (Rawalpindi and Islamabad). For this purpose, a validated high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) method was adopted involving solid-phase extraction procedure. Wastewater samples were collected from various sites of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Results of HPLC analysis revealed that DCF was extant with considerably high concentration, not only in wastewater but also in surface water samples. Concentrations as high as 216 μg L-1 was detected in Rawat industrial area and low as 8 μg L-1 was detected in dairy farm wastewater samples collected from Taramri. However, maximum DCF levels in residential wastewater and hospital wastewater were detected to be 105 μg L-1 and 34 μg L-1, respectively. Moreover, the highest detected level (116 μg L-1) was found in surface water of Sawan River. Further, results of ecological risk assessment revealed its possible toxic effects of DCF on various aquatic organisms.


Diclofenac; Ecological risk assessment; Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug; Pharmaceutical; Solid-phase extraction

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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