Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs): a review on environmental contamination in China

Environ Int. 2013 Sep;59:208-24. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2013.06.012. Epub 2013 Jul 6.


Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) which contain diverse organic groups, such as antibiotics, hormones, antimicrobial agents, synthetic musks, etc., have raised significant concerns in recently years for their persistent input and potential threat to ecological environment and human health. China is a large country with high production and consumption of PPCPs for its economic development and population growth in recent years. This may result in PPCP contamination in different environmental media of China. This review summarizes the current contamination status of different environment media, including sewage, surface water, sludge, sediments, soil, and wild animals, in China by PPCPs. The human body burden and adverse effects derived from PPCPs are also evaluated. Based on this review, it has been concluded that more contamination information of aquatic environment and wildlife as well as human body burden of PPCPs in different areas of China is urgent. Studies about their environmental behavior and control technologies need to be conducted, and acute and chronic toxicities of different PPCP groups should be investigated for assessing their potential ecological and health risks.

Keywords: China; Contamination; Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs); Sewage; Surface water.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / analysis
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / toxicity
  • Anti-Infective Agents / analysis
  • Anti-Infective Agents / toxicity
  • China / epidemiology
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions / epidemiology*
  • Environment*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Hormones / analysis
  • Hormones / toxicity
  • Humans
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / analysis*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sewage / chemistry
  • Soil / chemistry
  • Soil Pollutants / analysis*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Hormones
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Sewage
  • Soil
  • Soil Pollutants
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical