U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


Date of this Version



Published in Environmental Contaminants in Biota: Interpreting Tissue Concentrations, 2nd edition, ed. W. Nelson Beyer & James P. Meador (Boca Raton: CRC, 2011).


U.S. Government Work


The presence of active pharmaceuticals ingredients (APIs) in aquatic systems has led in recent years to a burgeoning literature examining environmental occurrence, fate, effects, risk assessment, and treatability of these compounds. The vast preponderance of studies aimed at identifying and quantifying contaminant residues in aquatic tissues have involved the conventional and legacy pollutants. Comparatively few studies have been targeted at APIs, primarily those that are lipophilic. Although APIs have received much attention as "emerging" contaminants of concern, it is important to recognize that traditional approaches to understand and predict exposure and effects of other environmental organic contaminant classes mayor may not be appropriate for APIs. For example, traditional approaches for understanding aquatic effects may not be as useful for some APIs (Brooks et al. 2003), but lessons learned from the study of compounds active at the hypothalamicpituitary- gonadal axis (endocrine disruptors/modulators) may reduce uncertainties associated with environmental assessments of other APIs (Ankley et al. 2007).