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Medicines, shaken and stirred: a critical review on the ecotoxicology of pharmaceutical mixtures

Journal article
Authors Thomas Backhaus
Published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences
Volume 369
Issue 1656
ISSN 0962-8436
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2013.0585
Keywords mixture ecotoxicology, concentration addition, independent action, synergism, PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS, ENVIRONMENTAL RISK-ASSESSMENT, WASTE-WATER, BACTERIAL COMMUNITIES, AQUATIC ENVIRONMENT, SINGLE-SUBSTANCE, VIBRIO-FISCHERI, STP EFFLUENTS, TOXICITY, RIVER, Biology
Subject categories Biological Sciences, Toxicology

Abstract

Analytical monitoring surveys routinely confirm that organisms in the environment are exposed to complex multi-component pharmaceutical mixtures. We are hence tasked with the challenge to take this into consideration when investigating the ecotoxicology of pharmaceuticals. This review first provides a brief overview of the fundamental approaches for mixture toxicity assessment, which is then followed by a critical review on the empirical evidence that is currently at hand on the ecotoxicology of pharmaceutical mixtures. It is concluded that, while the classical concepts of concentration addition and independent action (response addition) provide a robust scientific footing, several knowledge gaps remain. This includes, in particular, the need for more and better empirical data on the effects of pharmaceutical mixtures on soil organisms as well as marine flora and fauna, and exploring the quantitative consequences of toxicokinetic, toxicodynamic and ecological interactions. Increased focus should be put on investigating the ecotoxicology of pharmaceutical mixtures in environmentally realistic settings.

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