Science Inventory

Presence of pharmaceuticals in fish collected from urban rivers in the U.S. EPA 2008–2009 National Rivers and Streams Assessment


Huerta, B., S. Rodriguez-Mozaz, Jim Lazorchak, D. Barcelo, A. Batt, J. Wathen, AND L. Stahl. Presence of pharmaceuticals in fish collected from urban rivers in the U.S. EPA 2008–2009 National Rivers and Streams Assessment. SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT. Elsevier BV, AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, 634:542-549, (2018).


Impact first occurrence study to assess pharmaceuticals accumulated in fish tissues of U.S. Urban rivers. Urban waters were monitored for 58 pharmaceuticals during the 2008/2009 National Rivers and Streams Assessment Survey. The purpose was to determine whether fish collected from urban waters with high concentrations of pharmaceuticals may also be bio accumulating pharmaceuticals in their tissues.


Fish are good indicators of aquatic environment pollution because of their capability to uptake pollutants contained in water. Therefore, accumulation of pharmaceutical compounds in freshwater and marine fish and other aquatic organisms has been studied extensively in the last decade. In this context, the present study investigates the occurrence of pharmaceutical compounds in wild fish from 25 polluted river sites in the USA, downstream from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). Sample sites constitute a subset of urban rivers investigated in the U.S. EPA's 2008–2009 National Rivers and Streams Assessment. Thirteen pharmaceuticals (out of the twenty compounds analyzed) were quantified in fish fillets at concentrations commonly below 10 ng g−1, in accordance with the findings from previous studies in the USA and Europe. The psychoactive drugs venlafaxine, carbamazepine and its metabolite 2-hydroxy carbamazepine were the most prevalent compounds (58%, 27% and 42%, respectively). This group of drugs is highly prescribed and rather resistant to degradation during conventional treatment in WWTPs as well as in natural aquatic environments. Salbutamol, a drug used to treat asthma, and the diuretic hydrochlorothiazide were also frequently detected (in >20% of the samples). Occurrence of six pharmaceutical families due to chronic exposure at environmental concentrations in water was detected in eight fish species.

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Record Details:

Product Published Date: 09/01/2018
Record Last Revised: 04/16/2018
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 340413