Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Pharmaceutical and personal care product residues in the environment: Occurence, sources, treatment and effects

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
1.08.00  Natural sciences and mathematics  Control and care of the environment   

Code Science Field
T270  Technological sciences  Environmental technology, pollution control 

Code Science Field
1.05  Natural Sciences  Earth and related Environmental sciences 
pharmaceutical residues, personal care products, environment, sources, fate, cycling
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (29)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  04650  PhD Oliver Bajt  Control and care of the environment  Researcher  2013 - 2016  439 
2.  10646  Željko Blažeka  Control and care of the environment  Researcher  2013 - 2016  202 
3.  34431  PhD Marjeta Česen  Control and care of the environment  Junior researcher  2013 - 2016  58 
4.  11495  PhD Darko Drev  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2015 - 2016  643 
5.  23625  MSc Marija Drolka  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2013 - 2016 
6.  22616  PhD Tina Eleršek  Biology  Researcher  2013 - 2016  260 
7.  09892  PhD Metka Filipič  Biology  Researcher  2013 - 2016  585 
8.  28478  PhD Marinka Gams Petrišič  Control and care of the environment  Junior researcher  2013  45 
9.  12315  PhD Ester Heath  Control and care of the environment  Head  2013 - 2016  603 
10.  27712  PhD Maša Ignjatović  Biology  Researcher  2013 - 2016  39 
11.  34903  Klara Jarni  Biology  Researcher  2014 - 2015  57 
12.  03540  PhD Boris Kompare  Hydrology  Researcher  2013 - 2014  865 
13.  27733  PhD Tina Kosjek  Control and care of the environment  Researcher  2013 - 2016  360 
14.  13822  PhD Janez Košmrlj  Chemistry  Researcher  2013 - 2016  531 
15.  00745  PhD Uroš Krajnc  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2013 - 2016  217 
16.  33157  PhD Marko Krivec  Chemistry  Researcher  2014 - 2016  59 
17.  26067  PhD Aleksandra Krivograd Klemenčič  Control and care of the environment  Researcher  2013 - 2016  302 
18.  35324  Ines Levačić  Interdisciplinary research  Researcher  2015 - 2016  25 
19.  08314  PhD Radmila Milačič  Control and care of the environment  Researcher  2013 - 2016  800 
20.  11855  Vesna Mislej  Chemistry  Researcher  2015 - 2016  69 
21.  11279  PhD Nives Ogrinc  Control and care of the environment  Researcher  2013 - 2016  1,138 
22.  08946  Silva Perko    Technical associate  2013 - 2014  51 
23.  32456  Sašo Pocajt  Control and care of the environment  Researcher  2013 - 2014 
24.  18359  PhD Janez Ščančar  Control and care of the environment  Researcher  2013 - 2016  677 
25.  25027  PhD Damijana Urankar  Chemistry  Researcher  2013  99 
26.  24341  PhD Matej Uršič  Hydrology  Researcher  2013 - 2016  68 
27.  33926  PhD Mojca Zupanc  Process engineering  Junior researcher  2013  78 
28.  20767  PhD Bojana Žegura  Biology  Researcher  2013 - 2016  340 
29.  03950  PhD Dušan Žigon  Chemistry  Researcher  2013 - 2016  169 
Organisations (6)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0103  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology  Ljubljana  1626990  23,072 
2.  0105  National Institute of Biology  Ljubljana  5055784  13,251 
3.  0106  Jožef Stefan Institute  Ljubljana  5051606000  90,664 
4.  0792  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Civil and Geodetic Engineering  Ljubljana  1626981  25,720 
5.  1014  Ecological Engineering Institute  Maribor  5295149000  385 
6.  6484  JAVNO PODJETJE VODOVOD KANALIZACIJA SNAGA d.o.o. (Slovene)  Ljubljana  5046688  878 
Emerging environmental contaminants are not necessarily new chemicals, but are defined as substances that have often long been present in the environment but whose presence and significance are only now being elucidated. They commonly derive from municipal, agricultural, and industrial wastewater sources and pathways. The newly recognized contaminants represent a shift in traditional thinking as many are produced industrially but are also dispersed to the environment from domestic and commercial sources. Their presence is of concern due to possible adverse effects to human and the general wellbeing of ecosystems, especially since significant gaps in our knowledge exist concerning their presence, cycling, effects and eventual fate.   One of the emerging groups of organic pollutants of special concern is pharmaceutical and personal care product (PPCP) residues.  PPCP refers to any product used by individuals for personal health or cosmetic reasons or used by agribusiness to enhance either the growth or health of livestock. The major goal of this project is to provide information on these compounds in order to evaluate their potential threat to ecosystem’s wellbeing and consequently to human health. To accomplish this goal, we will within the research activities of this project develop ultra-trace level analytical methods to quantify PPCP residues (parent compounds, metabolites-if applicable, and environmental transformation products) in different matrices (e.g. water, sediment). Sophisticated analytical procedures including hyphenated gas and liquid chromatographic and mass spectrometric techniques will be applied to evaluate their occurrence. Initially, sources and pathways by which contaminants enter the environment and those compartments, which will be sampled, will be selected according to physicochemical parameters. Also, processes that define their fate in the environment will be characterised and quantified based on screening various advanced treatment processes. These include UV degradation, photocatalysis, degradation in cavitation chamber, ozonation, oxidation with chlorine dioxide in combination with classical activated sludge (aerobic, anaerobic) and will be studied using a laboratory scale wastewater treatment plant and each assessed for efficacy for removing PPCP residues. The most efficient combination will be selected not only according to removal of PPCP residues but also according to potential toxic effects. Nevertheless, PPCP residues may be considered as model compounds, i.e. the representatives of trace persistent polar organic pollutants. In this sense, the proposed treatment technologies may also be applied to other industrial branches dealing with the elimination of organic micropollutants in the discharges. Co-financing organisations and end-of-pipe users will actively take part in this proposal by contributing their knowledge, needs and experiences. The project coordinator (Jožef Stefan Institute), the research groups: University of Ljubljana Faculty of Civil Engineering and Faculty for Chemistry and Chemical Technology, National Institute of Biology, Ecological Engineering Institute, VO-KA Waste Water Treatment Plant Ljubljana, and co-financing organisations and end-of-pipe users: Central Waste Water Treatment Plant Domžale-Kamnik, VO-KA Waste Water Treatment Plant Ljubljana, Ecological Engineering Institute and the University Medical Centre - Oncological Institute Ljubljana, collaborating in the project all have excellent references and have successfully completed numerous projects on this scale, which forms a good foundation for carrying out the proposed research. Importantly, the project is also supported by CSIC, EAWAG and Hoffman LaRoche. Overall, the project outcomes will raise awareness related to the effects of PPCP released into the environment and the potential threat that they pose to aquatic biota and human health. We will share and disseminate the results through various media outlets.
Significance for science
The elements of originality in project were: - Identification of sources of PPCP residues in Slovene environment Two “source-WWTP-receiving body” catchments were followed with an emphasis on source identification. This project was the first of a kind undertaken in Slovenia. The work was of interest to PPCP sources and treatment bodies, and to the general public since our aim was to create awareness of the adverse effects of the over use and improper disposal of unused PPCPs. - Occurrence and cycling in Slovene environment This project intended to go further by not only using grab, flow or time proportional sampling, but also to use passive samplers. This novel approach allowed contaminants to be detected at ultra-low levels. Our aims was also to develop novel in-house passive samplers specifically to trap structurally diverse compounds. - Formation and identification transformation product The identification of novel transformation products, formed during water treatment or in the environment, added a new dimension to current research. The complexity of the task means that it has been restricted to only a few laboratories worldwide of which those in this research consortium are representative. The Organic Analytical Chemistry group, Department of Environmental Sciences, JSI, is a leader in this field. In addition, the European institutions CSIC and EAWAG supported our research. - Toxicology: Testing the toxicity of transformation products, and their interactive effects in mixtures of transformation products/ metabolites and parent compounds are novel approaches in assessing the environmental impact of PPCP residues. The main drawback of previous studies of organic micropollutants was that they only focused on the parent compounds. However, compounds in the environment occur in mixtures and may, as a result, induce interactive (synergistic) effects in ecosystems. This project addressed and compared both, single compound and mixture effects in artificial and environmental samples. The project combined research in analytical chemistry, ecotechnology and toxicology. This interdisciplinary approach improved overall interpretation of the findings. We combined the knowledge of six research groups: Jožef Stefan Institute, University of Ljubljana, National Institute of Biology, and Institute for Ecological Engineering and four end-of-pipe users: Institute for Ecological Engineering and WWTP Domžale-Kamnik, VOKA-WWTP Ljubljana and UKC-Oncological Institute. In addition renowned international research groups CSIC (Spain), EAWAG and Hoffman LaRoche (both Switzerland) supported this research. An interdisciplinary approach brought together research institutes and end-of-pipe users to propose actual solutions. The data collated resulted in publications in scientific journals of merit.
Significance for the country
PPCP residues in the environment are a decade old recognised problem. While much is known about the positive impacts of PPCP, insufficient knowledge existed on the impacts on human health and ecosystems. This made evaluating the social and economic impact difficult since any analysis relied on both quantitative and qualitative measures. A demand, therefore, existed for quantitative studies. We aimed to address this by putting numbers to levels of PCPP residues, toxicological studies and identifying sources and sinks and measuring the efficiency of conventional and advanced water treatment technologies all essential for environmental management and control. The main impacts of project results are improved water treatment technologies leading to higher environmental quality, publicly available data for environmental risk assessment, expected impact on European legislation and potential applicability in different industrial branches since PPCP and their TPs may be considered as model compounds, i.e. as representatives of trace persistent organic pollutants POP. In this sense, the proposed treatment technologies are applicable to other industrial branches dealing with elimination of POP in their discharges. Project results are unique in Slovene environment and are due to their great impact in European research sphere, of outstanding importance for Slovenia.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2013, 2014, 2015, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2013, 2014, 2015, final report
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