Do Pharmaceuticals Pose a Threat to Primary Producers?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Publication details

JournalCritical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology
DateE-pub ahead of print - 18 Jun 2015
DatePublished (current) - 2015
Issue number23
Pages (from-to)2565-2610
Early online date18/06/15
Original languageEnglish


Trace amounts of pharmaceuticals have been reported in aquatic
environments worldwide, and their toxicity to nontargeted organisms
is of increasing concern. Algae are primary producers in
aquatic food chains, and as such are very sensitive to external
disturbance. While data are available on the toxicity of a variety
of pharmaceuticals to algal species, there has been no attempt
to synthesize and make sense of these data. Here, we discuss the
importance of algae and summarize the available data on the ecotoxicity
of pharmaceuticals to algal species. We then use the data
to assess the potential risks of pharmaceuticals to algae. These data
indicate that some antibiotics in aquatic environments could pose
a potential threat to algal species with blue-green algae being particularly
sensitive. Some of these pharmaceuticals could pose a risk
that is equivalent to some compounds used as herbicides. However,
there are significant gaps in the understanding of the risks of pharmaceuticals
to algae and many research questions on the topic still
need to be addressed.

    Research areas

  • pharmaceuticals, algae, toxicity, environmental risk assessment

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