phase 1: 2008-2011

For a short summary of phase 1 please read our book "Pharmaceuticals in a Healthy Environment". For a full list of scientific publications click here.

Main contributions

New concept


A concept of a "critical environmental concen-
tration" (CEC) has been proposed and predicted for 500 pharmaceutical substances. The CEC represents a water concentration that is expected to cause a pharmacological response in exposed fish.


Fick et al. 2010


A freely available,  comprehensive and

interactive database with ecotoxicity data for

pharmaceutical substances were compiled.


Available here
Molander et al. 2009

Evolutionary conservation of drug targets


The evolutionary conservation of human drug targets in non-target organisms was described, identifying limitations for extrapolating between species.


Gunnarsson et al. 2008



Wastewater treatment techniques


Ozone and active carbon have been identified as promising techniques to reduce pharmaceutical substances during wastewater treatment and proposed for further implementation studies in phase 2.


Lundström et al. 2010a

Lundström et el. 2010b

Fick et al. 2012

Analytical protocols


Sensitive and streamlined analytical protocols

redeveloped for more than 120 pharmaceutical substances in different matrices.


Fick 2012


Reliability and relevance evaluation


Comparison of current reliability evaluation methods for ecotoxicity studies, evaluation of peer-reviewed studies, and development of a new evaluation method for both reliability and relevance.


Ågerstrand et al. 2011a

Ågerstrand et al. 2011b

Pollution from manufacturing


Pollution from manufacturing was identified as a source for the highest concentrations of pharmaceutical substances in the environment, leading to promotion of antibiotic resistance genes.


Carlsson et al. 2009

Fick et al. 2009

Kristiansson et al. 2011

Pharmaceuticals of concern


Several pharmaceutical substances were identified as being of potential concern when combining bio-concentration studies and read-across between mammals and fish.


Ethinylestradiol, a hormonal ingredient of
contraceptive pills, were observed to cause sex change and reduced fertility in frog when the tadpoles were exposed to concentrations found in the environment.


Levonorgestrel, a synthetic hormone used in contraceptives, bio-concentrates in trout exposed to treated wastewater. The concentration in the fish blood plasma was higher than the therapeutic level in humans. Severe effects on the reproductive system in female frogs were also observed after exposure to levonorgestrel during tadpole stages.


Berg et al. 2009

Fick et al. 2010

Säfholm et al. 2011

Kvarnryd et al. 2011