[Pharmwaste] Researchers Find New Pharmaceuticals in Texas Waters

DeBiasi,Deborah dldebiasi at deq.virginia.gov
Mon May 7 17:02:54 EDT 2007


Researchers Find New Pharmaceuticals in Texas Waters

Baylor University researchers announced on May 1 they have found the
residue of three new human medications in fish living in the Pecan Creek
in North Texas. 

The pharmaceuticals, which have not been previously identified in fish,
are: diphenhydramine, an over-the-counter antihistamine also commonly
used as a sedative in nonprescription sleep aids and motion sickness;
diltiazem, a drug for high blood pressure; and carbamazepine, a
treatment for epilepsy and bipolar disorder. Residue of norfluoxetine,
the active metabolite of the antidepressant fluoxetine, also was
detected in this study, confirming results of a previous project by the

"These results demonstrate the increasing need to consider
bioaccumulation of emerging contaminants in the environment," said Dr.
Kevin Chambliss, an assistant professor of chemistry at Baylor, who is a
co-lead investigator on the project. "This research proves fish are
being exposed to multiple compounds in our waterways." 

Most of the water in Pecan Creek is effluent from an upstream wastewater
treatment facility. The data suggests there is not a human health
concern, the researchers said. However, exposure to the compounds may
produce adverse effects in fish. For example, high levels of
antidepressants, like fluoxetine, in fish are known to cause behavioral
changes, which impact aggression, feeding rate and other behaviors
necessary for fish survival. 

"The effects of these three new compounds on fish are still not well
understood, but it could be important to an emerging area of science,"
said Dr. Bryan Brooks, an assistant professor of environmental and
biomedical studies at Baylor who is an environmental toxicologist and a
co-lead investigator on the project. "The pharmacological properties of
these compounds in humans will likely provide an indication of their
specific effects in fish." 

Although treated wastewater may meet current federal testing standards,
no guidelines or federal water quality criteria exist for
pharmaceuticals, Brooks said. 

To test the collected fish tissue for pharmaceuticals, Chambliss and
Alejandro Ramirez, a Baylor doctoral student in chemistry who is the
lead author on the study, developed a new method using a technology
called liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. This technique
can, for the first time, screen fish for several groups of drugs at the
same time. Researchers said previous tests for detecting pharmaceutical
and personal care products in tissues of aquatic organisms focused only
on identification of individual medications or classes of medications
like antidepressants. The new test created by Baylor researchers can
screen up to 25 different drugs, representing multiple therapeutic
classes, the researchers said. The 25 compounds were chosen based on
their relative frequency in the environment, as well as the variability
of their structures and physicochemical properties. 

Kevin Chambliss: http://www.baylor.edu/chemistry/index.php?id=7257


Deborah L. DeBiasi
Email:   dldebiasi at deq.virginia.gov
WEB site address:  www.deq.virginia.gov
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
Office of Water Permit Programs
Industrial Pretreatment/Toxics Management Program
Mail:          P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA  23218 (NEW!)
Location:  629 E. Main Street, Richmond, VA  23219
PH:         804-698-4028
FAX:      804-698-4032

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