Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 186, Issue 10, pp 6663–6682 | Cite as

Occurrence of pharmaceuticals in urban wastewater of north Indian cities and risk assessment

  • Kunwar P. Singh
  • Premanjali Rai
  • Arun K. Singh
  • Priyanka Verma
  • Shikha Gupta


Six pharmaceuticals of different categories, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, ketoprofen, naproxen, diclofenac), anti-epileptic (carbamazepine), and anti-microbial (trimethoprim), were investigated in wastewater of the urban areas of Ghaziabad and Lucknow, India. Samples were concentrated by solid phase extraction (SPE) and determined by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) methods. The SPE-HPLC method was validated according to the International Conference on Harmonization guidelines. All the six drugs were detected in wastewater of Ghaziabad, whereas naproxen was not detected in Lucknow wastewater. Results suggest that levels of these detected drugs were relatively higher in Ghaziabad as compared to those in Lucknow, and diclofenac was the most frequently detected drug in both the study areas. Detection of these drugs in wastewater reflects the importance of wastewater inputs as a source of pharmaceuticals. In terms of the regional distribution of compounds in wastewater of two cities, higher spatial variations (coefficient of variation 112.90–459.44 %) were found in the Lucknow wastewater due to poor water exchange ability. In contrast, lower spatial variation (162.38–303.77 %) was observed in Ghaziabad. Statistical analysis results suggest that both data were highly skewed, and populations in two study areas were significantly different (p < 0.05). A risk assessment based on the calculated risk quotient (RQ) in six different bioassays (bacteria, duckweed, algae, daphnia, rotifers, and fish) showed that the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) posed high (RQ >1) risk to all the test species. The present study would contribute to the formulation of guidelines for regulation of such emerging pharmaceutical contaminants in the environment.


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs Anti-epileptic Anti-microbial Solid phase extraction Wastewater Environmental risk assessment 



The authors thank the Director, CSIR-Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Lucknow (India) for his keen interest in this work and providing all necessary facilities.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kunwar P. Singh
    • 1
    • 2
  • Premanjali Rai
    • 1
    • 2
  • Arun K. Singh
    • 1
    • 2
  • Priyanka Verma
    • 2
  • Shikha Gupta
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Academy of Scientific and Innovative ResearchNew DelhiIndia
  2. 2.Environmental Chemistry DivisionCSIR-Indian Institute of Toxicology ResearchLucknowIndia

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