Pharmaceuticals in groundwater

Residues of pharmaceutical products occur mainly at groundwater monitoring sites situated close to rivers. They originate from urban sewage systems, enter rivers and streams via treatment plants and finally reach groundwater by bank filtration.

About 100 NAQUA monitoring sites were analysed in 2004 and 2005 within the framework of pilot studies on residues of human and veterinary pharmaceutical products. Those monitoring sites were selected where an input of sewage or manure into groundwater could be expected.

More than 80 pharmaceuticals were analysed and 10 different substances were detected in the groundwater, generally in concentrations below 20 ng/l. More than half the medicinal products detected were antibiotics.

The four active substances most frequently detected were the sulphonamide antibiotic sulphamethoxazole, the antiepileptic carbamazepine and the iodinated X-ray contrast media amidotrizoic acid and iopamidol.

Pharmaceuticals were mainly detected at monitoring sites situated in catchment areas where watercourses polluted with sewage infiltrate into groundwater.

Detection and concentration of pharmaceuticals

Pilot studies 2004/2005. Maximum value per monitoring site.

Substance

Use

Number of monitoring sites

 

 

sampled

detected

Concentration > 100 ng/l

Antibiotics

 

 

 

 

Sulfamethoxazole

H

100

18

-

Enoxacin

H

47

4

-

Norfloxacin

H

47

2

-

Sulphadiazine

H, V

100

1

-

Sulphamethazine

V

100

4

1

Sulphathiazole

V

75

1

-

X-ray contrast media

 

 

 

 

Amidotrizoic acid

H

47

13

-

Iopamidol

H

47

8

1

Antiepileptics

 

 

 

 

Carbamazepine

H

47

9

-

Hypolipidemics

 

 

 

 

Clofibrinic acid

H

47

1

H = Human medicinal product
V = Veterinary medicinal product

Further information

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Last modification 29.08.2018

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