Persistence and impact of pharmaceutics in the environment are discussed. The case of carbamazepine (CBZ), a widely used antiepileptic drug detected in rivers, lakes, sludges and even in ground water is examined. CBZ fate was investigated in all possible routes that may follow after it has been discharged to the sewage system: activated sludge, anaerobic digestion sludge, seawater, fresh water and soil. Carbamazepine slowed down, i.e. caused a decrease in the COD consumption rate in the activated sludge process, especially after longer term exposure, while the anaerobic sludge process was unaffected in the operating conditions that were applied. The compound was not degraded under either short term or long term exposure to either aerobic or anaerobic degradation processes. Carbamazepine seemed to biosorb to solid phases (soil, sludge) and this strength of sorption was related to the organic content of the solid phase. These results explain why CBZ is a very persistent xenobiotic compound, as is apparent from its detection in appreciable amounts in various aquatic environments.

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