Estonian Waterworks Association and
Latvian Institute of Aquatic Ecology
Scientists: too many active pharmaceutical ingredients entering in the environment
The international project CWPharma 2 “Clear Waters from Pharmaceuticals-2” has ended. During the project, scientists from the Baltic Sea countries identified the active pharmaceutical ingredients that pollute the Baltic Sea the most. Concentrations of more than 70 active pharmaceutical ingredients were determined. In cooperation with Latvian, Danish and Estonian experts, a video introducing the problem was made.
Between 2017 and 2021, researchers from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Poland and Sweden conducted a series of studies to determine which pharmaceutically active substances are the most important pollutants in the Baltic Sea ecosystem. The EU’s Interreg Baltic Sea Region Program funded the project.
Surface water and the coastal waters of the Baltic Sea, as well as sediments and soils fertilized with sewage sludge or manure, were analyzed. Emissions from domestic wastewater treatment plants, hospitals, pharmaceutical production facilities, landfills and fish and livestock farms were also analyzed. Samples were collected in the catchment areas of the Vantaanjoki (Finland), Pärnu (Estonia), Lielupe and Daugava (Latvia), Vistula (Poland), Vornova-Pina (Germany) and Motala (Sweden) river basins. A total of 13 365 AFV concentrations determined from 226 samples during the study.
Pharmaceutically active substances of several cardiovascular drugs, analgesics, asthma and allergy drugs, hormones, psychotropic substances, antibiotics and veterinary drugs were found in high concentrations. No medicine could fully perform its function without substances that are specifically designed to act on living cells. When this happens in the human body, we are treated, but at the moment medicines are released into the environment, they start to act on organisms this action that do not need. However, from the moment medicines are released into the environment, they start to affect other living organisms, thereby affecting the entire ecosystem. The consequences are often unpredictable.
There are two main ways how pharmaceutically active substances enter the environment. Firstly, through wastewater treatment plants, which do not have, at least for the time being, equipment for removing this type of substance. Secondly, when people dispose medicines incorrectly, for example by throwing them in the household waste. If everyone return the unwanted or unsafe medicines to pharmacies or waste station, they would be much less likely to end up in the environment.
To educate the public and raise awareness in society about active pharmaceutical ingredient problems, the project produced an educational video.
More about the CWPharma: https://www.cwpharma.fi/en-US
More about the CWPharma 2: https://projects.au.dk/waterpurification/cwpharma-2/
Pille Aarma, EVEL Managing Director, tel: +372 554 6671, e-post: email@example.com
Irina Vahtra, EVEL Communication Manager, tel: +372 5648 3211, e-post: firstname.lastname@example.org