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Drug metabolization in plants - Method development for detection of environmentally relevant trace levels

Lisa Emhofer, Institute of Analytical Chemistry, Johannes Kepler University


Due to steady population growth, increasing chronic illnesses and advances in medical science, the consumption of drugs increases continuously. For example, in Germany an increase of 40 - 65% of current demand is expected by 2045.

As a negative effect, more and more drug residues are being introduced into the environment. The main source of contamination are sewage treatment plants. Excretion of pharmaceuticals not absorbed by the body, washing off of externally applied medical products (e.g. ointments or creams) and also the improper disposal of substances are ways that medicines end up in municipal sewage.

Although wastewater treatment plants purify the effluents, they are often unable to completely remove the various pharmaceutically active substances from the water. When the treated waters are returned to surface waters, the environment will inevitably be contaminated. Antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-rheumatics and antiepileptic drugs are detected frequently, occurring in purified waters in the ng/L up to the low μg/L range.

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