Pharmaceuticals in the Marine Environment
Published:27 Aug 2015
Pharmaceuticals have been reported to occur in coastal environments across the globe from Antarctica to the Arctic. Worldwide, the number of people living along the coast is rapidly increasing, resulting in increased discharges of wastewater, which is a major source of pharmaceuticals entering aquatic environments. At the same time there is an increasing demand for farmed seafood. It also is likely that the number of different pharmaceutical compounds and their concentrations in the marine environment is also increasing. There is a growing body of evidence that some pharmaceuticals are present in marine ecosystems at concentrations that are likely to have adverse effects on marine organisms. Of particular concern are the potential impacts on primary producers, such as algae, that may have follow-on effects on aquatic food webs, including the availability of seafood for human consumption. There is limited evidence for the accumulation of pharmaceuticals in aquatic food chains and a paucity of data for higher trophic-level organisms, including marine mammals. This chapter presents an overview of the occurrence, fate and sources of pharmaceuticals, illicit drugs and veterinary medicines in the marine environment, and their potential impact on marine organisms and human health.