Micropollutants can be found ubiquitously in the aquatic environment. In addition to industrial chemicals and flame-retardants pharmaceutically active compounds have attracted significant attention of science and public during the last years.
After being administered human drugs are partially metabolised in the human organism, excreted and finally end up in the municipal wastewater. Since a targeted elimination of these compounds does not match the state of the art of municipal wastewater treatment plants, human pharmaceuticals and their metabolites pass wastewater treatment plants and enter the water cycle through receiving waters. Veterinary pharmaceuticals in liquid manure are being applied on the fields and reach surface waters mainly by washdown. More than 100 pharmaceutically active compounds have been detected in the aquatic environment, sometimes even in ecotoxicologically relevant concentrations.
Due to the ageing of the population the consumption of human pharmaceuticals will increase. Hence, it can be assumed that the input of human drugs into the wastewater and therefore into the aquatic environment will increase as well.
Due to the persistence, the bioaccumulation potential and the toxicity of micropollutants, it is necessary to minimize their input into the sewage system and water bodies. Therefore there is a need for the balancing of micropollutants from direct and indirect discharger point sources such as industrial enterprises, hospitals and wastewater treatment plants. Furthermore, examinations of different processes regarding the limitation of emissions have to be undertaken to achieve a reduction of the input of micropollutants into the aquatic environment.
On the following pages you will find information about several research and development projects which examine different aspects of the occurrence and the elimination of micropollutants in the water and wastewater sector.