Antineoplastic drugs in urban wastewater: Occurrence, nanofiltration treatment and toxicity screening

Teresa I. A. Gouveia, Maria B. Cristóvão, Vanessa J. Pereira, João G. Crespo, Arminda Alves, Ana R. Ribeiro, Adrián Silva, Mónica S. F. Santos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


Antineoplastic drugs are pharmaceuticals that have been raising concerns among the scientific community due to: (i) their increasing prescription in the fight against the disease of the twentieth century (cancer); (ii) their recalcitrance to conventional wastewater treatments; (iii) their poor environmental biodegradability; and (iv) their potential risk to any eukaryotic organism. This emerges the urgency in finding solutions to mitigate the entrance and accumulation of these hazardous chemicals in the environment. Advanced oxidation processes (AOPs) have been taken into consideration to improve the degradation of antineoplastic drugs in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), but the formation of by-products that are more toxic or exhibit a different toxicity profile than the parent drug is frequently reported. This work evaluates the performance of a nanofiltration pilot unit, equipped with a Desal 5DK membrane, in the treatment of real WWTP effluents contaminated (without spiking) with eleven pharmaceuticals, five of which were never studied before. Average removals of 68 ± 23% were achieved for the eleven compounds, with decreasing risks from feed to permeate for aquatic organisms from receiving waterbodies (with the exception of cyclophosphamide, for which a high risk was estimated in the permeate). Aditionally, no significative impact on the growth and germination of three different seeds (Lepidium sativum, Sinapis alba, and Sorghum saccharatum) were determined for permeate matrix in comparison to the control.

Original languageEnglish
Article number121944
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023


  • Anticancer drugs
  • Cytostatic drugs
  • Nanofiltration
  • Pilot-scale treatment
  • Toxicity screening
  • Urban wastewater


Dive into the research topics of 'Antineoplastic drugs in urban wastewater: Occurrence, nanofiltration treatment and toxicity screening'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this