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Environmental Risk Assessment of Pharmaceuticals
Last update: 06 February 2008 by ECT


The widespread detection of a large variety of pharmaceuticals in the environment has raised concern about the potential impact of these bioactive substances on the environment. Research on the fate and effects of pharmaceuticals in the environment has become an important issue in recent years and progressed significantly. Yet, a number of uncertainties still need to be elucidated before risks can be fully evaluated.

The overall objective of the research project ERAPharm was to further advance existing knowledge and procedures for use in the environmental risk assessment (ERA) of human and veterinary pharmaceuticals.

The work addressing the specific objectives of ERAPharm was organised in nine work packages and four working groups. The working groups addressed specific aspects of the ERA of pharmaceuticals and proposed improvements, namely (i) how to target the ERA by using information from mammalian studies and higher-tier test approaches, (ii) how to better assess, model and consider partition and persistence of pharmaceuticals in the environment, (iii) how to identify pharmaceuticals likely to pose a high risk below current action limits and how to use alternative endpoints in the ERA, and (iv) how to identify transformation products and assess their effects and exposure. A considerable amount of the experimental work focussed on three case study compounds: two human pharmaceuticals, the ß-blocker atenolol and the anti-depressant fluoxetine, and the veterinary parasiticide ivermectin. Yet, further human and veterinary pharmaceuticals were investigated in the individual work packages.

ERAPharm is funded within the priority 'Global change and ecosystems' of the 6th framework programme of the European Commission (project no SSPI-CT-2003-511135).

ERAPharm started in October 2004 and ended in September 2007.

The Final Activity Report can be downloaded


Content: K. Duis / A. Coors