Pharmaceuticals and personal care products in aquatic environments and their removal by algae-based systems

Amin Mojiri, John L. Zhou, Harsha Ratnaweera, Shahabaldin Rezania, Mansoureh Nazari V

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The consumption of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) has been widely increasing, yet up to 90–95% of PPCPs consumed by human are excreted unmetabolized. Moreover, the most of PPCPs cannot be fully removed by wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), which release PPCPs to natural water bodies, affecting aquatic ecosystems and potentially humans. This study sought to review the occurrence of PPCPs in natural water bodies globally, and assess the effects of important factors on the fluxes of pollutants into receiving waterways. The highest ibuprofen concentration (3738 ng/L) in tap water was reported in Nigeria, and the highest naproxen concentration (37,700 ng/L) was reported in groundwater wells in Penn State, USA. Moreover, the PPCPs have affected aquatic organisms such as fish. For instance, up to 24.4 × 103 ng/g of atenolol was detected in P. lineatus. Amongst different technologies to eliminate PPCPs, algae-based systems are environmentally friendly and effective because of the photosynthetic ability of algae to absorb CO2 and their flexibility to grow in different wastewater. Up to 99% of triclosan and less than 10% of trimethoprim were removed by Nannochloris sp., green algae. Moreover, variable concentrations of PPCPs might adversely affect the growth and production of algae. The exposure of algae to high concentrations of PPCPs can reduce the content of chlorophyll and protein due to producing reactive oxygen species (ROS), and affecting expression of some genes in chlorophyll (rbcL, psbA, psaB and psbc).

Original languageEnglish
Article number132580
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Algae
  • Genes
  • Groundwater
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Wastewater


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