Chapter 3 - Anticancer drugs in the environment: environmental levels and technological challenges


Cytostatic drugs are one of the most used therapeutic agents to treat cancer. However, their high toxicity turns their handling and disposal into a matter of great concern. Upon administration, cytostatics are mainly excreted through urine either as conjugated or unconjugated forms. The oncology patient’s urine enters sewage system, reaching wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) that are unable to remove cytostatics, which will inevitably end up in the aquatic environment. In order to minimize this serious environmental and health concern, several technologies to remove these drugs from WWTP effluent are being developed and/or implemented, including nanofiltration, photoassisted oxidation processes, and ozonation. This chapter will review the environmental levels of the most prevalent cytostatic drugs and the challenges associated with the removal of these emerging contaminants from WWTP effluent.


João Vasco Valente, Susana Coelho, M. Ramiro Pastorinho, Ana Catarina A. Sousa

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