Pharmaceuticals in Drinking Water

  • Aleksandra JelićEmail author
  • Mira Petrović
  • Damià Barceló
Part of the The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry book series (HEC, volume 20)


Pharmaceuticals are a group of emerging contaminants that has received noticeable attention over the past decade. Continual development of the advanced instruments and improved analytical methodologies made possible detection of these microcontaminants in low levels in different environmental matrices. Traces of pharmaceuticals have also been found in groundwater and surface water that are used for drinking water supply. Therefore, concern has been raised over the potential risk to human health from exposure to the pharmaceutical residues via drinking water. Still, there is no evidence that any serious risk could arise from low concentrations of pharmaceuticals found in drinking water. Anyhow, there is much more to be understood about long-term, low-level exposure to a mixture of pharmaceuticals and their metabolites. In the following chapter, we give a brief overview of the technologies commonly applied for drinking water treatment, with reference to pharmaceutical removal, and we review available literature data on the occurrence of pharmaceuticals in finished drinking water.


Drinking water Occurrence Pharmaceuticals Removal 



Advanced oxidation processes


Disinfection by-products


Drinking water treatment plant




Endocrine-disrupting compounds


Granular activated carbon




Natural organic matter


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs




Reverse osmosis


Powdered activated carbon




Wastewater treatment plant


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aleksandra Jelić
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mira Petrović
    • 2
    • 3
  • Damià Barceló
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDAEA-CSIC)BarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA)GironaSpain
  3. 3.Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA)BarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.King Saud University (KSU)RiyadhSaudi Arabia

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