This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
We modeled the ecotoxicological risks of the pharmaceutical mixtures emitted from STP effluents into the environment. The classic mixture toxicity concept of Concentration Addition was used to calculate the total expected risk of the analytically determined mixtures, compare the expected impact of seven effluent streams and pinpoint the most sensitive group of species. The risk quotient of a single, randomly selected pharmaceutical is often more than a factor of 1 000 lower than the mixture risk, clearly indicating the need to systematically analyse the overall risk of all pharmaceuticals present. The MCR, which is the ratio between the most risky compound and the total mixture risk, varies between 1.2 and 4.2, depending on the actual scenario and species group under consideration. The mixture risk quotients, based on acute data and an assessment factor of 1 000, regularly exceed 1, indicating a potential risk for the environment, depending on the dilution in the recipient stream. The top 10 mixture components explain more than 95% of the mixture risk in all cases. A mixture toxicity assessment cannot go beyond the underlying single substance data. The lack of data on the chronic toxicity of most pharmaceuticals as well as the very few data available for in vivo fish toxicity has to be regarded as a major knowledge gap in this context. On the other hand, ignoring Independent Action or even using the sum of individual risk quotients as a rough approximation of Concentration Addition does not have a major impact on the final risk estimate.
This is a pre‐copy‐editing, author‐produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Water Research. The definitive publisher‐authenticated version is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2013.11.005
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