Prioritisation of pharmaceuticals based on risks to aquatic environments in Kazakhstan

Bakhyt Aubakirova, Raikhan Beisenova, Alistair B A Boxall

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Over the last 20 years, there has been increasing interest in the occurrence, fate, effects and risk of pharmaceuticals in the natural environment. However, we still have only limited or no data on ecotoxicological risks of many of the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) currently in use. This is partly due to the fact that the environmental assessment of an API is an expensive, time-consuming and complicated process. Prioritisation methodologies, that aim to identify APIs of most concern in a particular situation, could therefore be invaluable in focusing experimental work on APIs that really matter. The majority of approaches for prioritising APIs require annual pharmaceutical usage data. These methods cannot therefore be applied to countries, such as Kazakhstan, which have very limited data on API usage. This paper therefore presents an approach for prioritising APIs in surface waters in information-poor regions such as Kazakhstan. Initially data were collected on the number of products and active ingredients for different therapeutic classes in use in Kazakhstan and on the typical doses. These data were then used alongside simple exposure modelling approaches to estimate exposure indices for active ingredients (about 240 APIs) in surface waters in the country. Ecotoxicological effects data were obtained from the literature or predicted. Risk quotients were then calculated for each pharmaceutical based on the exposure and the substances ranked in order of risk quotient. Highest exposure indices were obtained for benzylpenicillin, metronidazole, sulbactam, ceftriaxone and sulfamethoxazole. The highest risk was estimated for amoxicillin, clarithromycin, azithromycin, ketoconazole and benzylpenicillin. In the future, the approach could be employed in other regions where usage information are limited. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
JournalIntegrated Environmental Assessment and Management
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2017

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