The European pharmaceutical market has been growing for decades and the environmental impact of pharmaceutically active substances has increased in parallel.
A decade ago, the European Environment Agency (EEA) identified the subject as an important emerging issue in its report 'Environment in the European Union at the turn of the century'. Since then, ever more research and expert recommendations (1, 2, 3) have underlined the need to tackle the release of pharmaceutical substances into the environment, primarily via wastewater.
To extend awareness of this emerging issue and to help achieve significant and measurable improvements in Europe's environment, the EEA invited experts from the science, industry and state sectors to participate in a dialogue. The aim was to improve information exchange and reach common positions on the current situation and necessary improvements.
The EEA hosted the expert workshop on pharmaceuticals in the environment in Copenhagen on 13 and 14 January 2009. The workshop addressed a variety of issues, including the magnitude of the pharmaceuticals market and the amounts of pharmaceutically active substances produced; the pathways by which active substances enter the environment; detected or assumed environmental effects; and ways to reduce impacts. Recognised experts spoke on each of the issues and summaries
of their contributions are presented in this report.