Pharmaceuticals and personal care products in the aquatic environment in China: a review

J Hazard Mater. 2013 Nov 15;262:189-211. doi: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2013.08.040. Epub 2013 Aug 28.


Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) have been detected as contaminants of emerging concern ubiquitously in the aquatic environment in China and worldwide. A clear picture of PPCP contamination in the Chinese aquatic environment is needed to gain insight for both research and regulatory needs (e.g. monitoring, control and management). The occurrence data of 112 PPCPs in waters and sediments in China has been reviewed. In most cases, the detected concentration of these PPCPs in waters and sediments were at ng/L and ng/g levels, which were lower than or comparable to those reported worldwide. A screening level risk assessment (SLERA) identified six priority PPCPs in surface waters, namely erythromycin, roxithromycin, diclofenac, ibuprofen, salicylic acid and sulfamethoxazole. The results of SLERA also revealed that the hot spots for PPCP pollution were those river waters affected by the megacities with high density of population, such as Beijing, Tianjin, Guangzhou and Shanghai. Limitations of current researches and implications for future research in China were discussed. Some regulatory issues were also addressed.

Keywords: ACR; Antibiotics; CIP; CLOA; CTM; DIC; EDCs; ERY; ERY-H(2)O; GEM; IBU; MDL; MECs; NAP; ND; NOECs; NOR; OFL; OTC; PCPs; PNECs; PPCPs; ROX; RQs; SALA; SD; SLERA; SMX; SMZ; Screening level risk assessment; Sediment; Surface water; TCC; TCS; TET; TMP; TYL; USA; USEPA; United States Environmental Protection Agency; United States of America; WWTPs; acute-to-chronic ratio; ciprofloxacin; clarithromycin; clofibric acid; diclofenac; endocrine disrupting chemicals; erythromycin; erythromycin-H(2)O; gemfibrozil; ibuprofen; measured environmental concentrations; method detection level; naproxen; no observed effect concentrations; norfloxacin; not detected; ofloxacin; oxytetracycline; personal care products; pharmaceuticals and personal care products; predicted no effect concentrations; risk quotients; roxithromycin; salicylic acid; screening level ecological risk assessment; sulfadiazine; sulfamethazine; sulfamethoxazole; tetracycline; triclocarban; triclosan; trimethoprim; tylosin; wastewater treatment plants.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Cosmetics / analysis*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / analysis*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*


  • Cosmetics
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical