Potential health impact of pharmaceuticals products released in the environment

The results of a European Environmental Agency workshop
EEA Technical report  No 1/2010, 34
EEA workshop

As a result of the workshop the participants drew up proposals for action among which:

  1. environmental risk assessment of human pharmaceuticals should be part of the risk‑benefit analysis within the authorisation process;
  2. all pharmaceuticals should be classified according to their  environmental hazardousness;
  3. research in the EU should be initiated including better methods for eco-efficient synthesis, developing new ‘greener’ pharmaceuticals that break down after use.
  4. take back scheme rules for unused pharmaceuticals should be harmonised in the EU and pharmaceutical waste should always be incinerated;
  5. to destroy unavoidable remnants of active substances and metabolites (mainly from treatment), improved wastewater treatment should be considered, for example using activated carbon, advanced oxidation or UV.
  6. prioritization should be given to evaluating pharmaceuticals with potentially severe environmental effects (e.g. antibiotics ivermectins, steroid hormones );