Assessing the exposure risk and impacts of pharmaceuticals in the environment on individuals and ecosystems

We identified several grand challenges for researchers in this field including; firstly, realistic assessments of exposure risks to pharmaceuticals, which are missing for most species, should account for the diversity and abundance of pharmaceuticals in environmental matrices, dispersal data for animals in contaminated landscapes and processes affecting uptake via diet or other routes

Kathryn E. Arnold; Alistair B. A. Boxall; A. Ross Brown; Richard J. Cuthbert; Sally Gaw; Thomas H. Hutchinson; Susan Jobling; Judith C. Madden; Chris D. Metcalfe; Vinny Naidoo; Richard F. Shore; Judit E. Smits; Mark A. Taggart; Helen M. Thompson

2013

Scholarcy highlights

  • The continued expansion of the human population is leading to escalating demand for resources, including human and veterinary pharmaceuticals
  • While the health benefits of medication are fundamentally important, it is only in the past decade that the potential environmental impacts of pharmaceuticals have begun to be considered in detail
  • At a recent Royal Societyfunded Research Fellow International Scientific Seminar, experts from diverse research fields discussed the risks to wildlife posed by pharmaceuticals in the environment
  • Thomas Hutchinson described recent work on developing the OECD’s Adverse Outcome Pathway approach to prioritize species selection for laboratory research and field monitoring; it uses six levels of information ranging from the chemical properties of a toxicant through to population impacts
  • For assessing pharmaceutical risks to wildlife globally, we need to focus on the developing world, where pharmaceutical production and consumption is rapidly increasing
  • We believe that diverse approaches used by academic researchers, industry risk assessors and regulators need to be better integrated to assess current and future risks from pharmaceuticals in the environment

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