One of the key questions arising from the presence of micro-pollutants in surface-, ground-, and drinking water is whether they pose a risk to human and ecosystem health. In our laboratories we have identified a number of biological effects by several pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) on human, animal and/or plant cells at different levels of biological organisation. In part, these effects occur at concentrations even below those reported in drinking water. Even though it is often still difficult to fully deduce the role of some of these effects on the whole organism or population level as well as after chronic exposure, the effects observed illustrate that the input of micro-pollutants into the environment must be avoided or as far as possible reduced. Much effort has already been devoted to improved treatment of sewage and raw drinking water. A comprehensive protection from aquatic micro-pollutants, however, cannot reside in water treatment technology alone. Instead, all components of the life cycle of these chemicals must be put to the table to turn around the current trend of increasing environmental loads. The goal of this report is to illustrate why a more comprehensive way of risk assessment is needed and what this should include.

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