Biodegradability of 14C-labeled antibiotics in a modified laboratory scale sewage treatment plant at environmentally relevant concentrations

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


For all new pharmaceuticals, an environmental risk assessment (ERA) has to be performed according to guidelines developed by the European Medicines Evaluation Agency. An important factor of this procedure is the assessment of the predicted environmental concentration in the aquatic environment, which is significantly influenced by the biodegradability of pharmaceuticals in sewage treatment plants. Established standardized methods for determining biodegradation under laboratory conditions apply to substance concentrations, which are much higher than those expected in reality. Against this background, the laboratory scale sewage treatment plant (LSSTP), as described by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Guideline No. 303A, was modified to construct a lossless system, which allows laboratory testing at realistic concentrations. To verify the experimental setup, the antibiotics benzylpenicillin, ceftriaxone, and trimethoprim were tested at low concentrations (μg/L) using 14C-labeled compounds. The results show that approximately 25% of benzylpenicillin was mineralized, whereas ceftriaxone and trimethoprim were not mineralized at all. Due to the high total recoveries of added radioactivity (≥95%) and the fact that the findings comply with available literature data, the lossless operation of the test system could be proved. Consequently, the modified LSSTP is a suitable tool to determine more realistic biodegradation data required for the exposure assessment within the scope of an ERA for pharmaceuticals.
ZeitschriftEnvironmental Science & Technology
Seiten (von - bis)318-324
Anzahl der Seiten7
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 01.01.2006