Transformation products of pharmaceuticals in the environment: Their fate, (eco)toxicity and bioaccumulation potential


Nowadays, a huge scientific attention is being paid to the chemicals of emerging concern, which may pose a significant risk to the human and whole ecosystems. Among them, residues of pharmaceuticals are a widely investigated group of chemicals. In recent years it has been repeatedly demonstrated that pharmaceuticals are present in the environment and that some of them can be toxic to organisms as well as accumulate in their tissues. However, even though the knowledge of the presence, fate and possible threats posed by the parent forms of pharmaceuticals is quite extensive, their transformation products (TPs) have been disregarded for long time. Since last few years, this aspect has gained more scientific attention and recently published papers proved their common presence in the environment. Also the interest in terms of their toxicity, bioconcentration and stability in the environment has increased. Therefore, the aim of our paper was to revise and assess the current state of knowledge on the fate and effects resulting from the presence of the pharmaceuticals’ transformation drugs in the environment. This review discusses the metabolites of compounds belonging to six major pharmaceutical groups: SSRIs, anticancer drugs, antibiotics, antihistamines, NSAIDs and opioids, additionally discussing other individual compounds for which literature data exist. The data presented in this paper prove that some TPs may be as harmful as their native forms, however for many groups of drugs this data is still insufficient to assess the risk posed by their presence in the environment.

Authors: Jakub Maculewicz, Dorota Kowalska, Klaudia Świacka, Michał Toński, Piotr Stepnowski, Anna Białk-Bielińska, Joanna Dołżonek
; Full Source: The Science of the total environment 2021 Aug 27;802:149916. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.149916.