Occurrence and reduction of pharmaceuticals in the water phase at Swedish wastewater treatment plants

Per Falås, Henrik Rasmus Andersen, Anna Ledin, Jes La Cour Jansen

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During the last decade, several screening programs for pharmaceuticals at Swedish wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) have been conducted by research institutes, county councils, and wastewater treatment companies. In this study, influent and effluent concentrations compiled from these screening programs were used to assess the occurrence and reduction of non-antibiotic pharmaceuticals for human usage. The study is limited to full-scale WWTPs with biological treatment. Based on the data compiled, a total of 70 non-antibiotic pharmaceuticals have been detected, at concentrations ranging from a few ng/L to several μg/L, in the influent water. The influent concentrations were compared with the sale volumes and for many pharmaceuticals it was shown that only a small fraction of the amount sold reaches WWTPs as dissolved parent compounds. Pharmaceuticals with low reduction degrees at traditional WWTPs were identified. Further comparison based on the biological treatment showed lower reduction degrees for several pharmaceuticals in trickling filter plants compared to activated sludge plants with nitrogen removal.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWater Science and Technology
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)783-791
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Biological treatment
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Wastewater treatment

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