Presence and toxicity of drugs used to treat SARS-CoV-2 in Llobregat River, Catalonia, Spain

Pol Domínguez-García, Reinerio Rolando Rodríguez, Carlos Barata, Cristian Gómez-Canela

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a strain of coronavirus that causes COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019), the respiratory illness responsible for the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, it was declared global pandemic, causing millions of deaths. An evident tendency of global pharmaceutical consumption due to COVID-19 pandemic should be seen worldwide, and this increase might suppose an environmental threat. Pharmaceuticals administrated at home or in pharmacies are excreted by faeces and urine after consumption, and wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are not able to remove all pharmaceuticals residues that eventually will end up in the aquatic media (rivers and sea). For this reason, analytical techniques such as liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS) have become prominent to identify and quantify pharmaceuticals residues in aquatic matrices. In view of the scarce data on the occurrence of pharmaceuticals used as COVID-19 treatment, the aim of the present study was to evaluate the presence of these class of pharmaceuticals in river water which were dexamethasone, prednisone, ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, remdesivir, ritonavir, lopinavir, acetaminophen, hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine and cloperastine, their toxicity in the aquatic environment using D. magna and to perform an exhaustive risk assessment in seven points of the Llobregat river basin. Dexamethasone, cloperastine and acetaminophen were the pharmaceuticals with higher concentrations, showing mean levels between 313 and 859 ng L−1.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49487-49497
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • COVID-19
  • D. magna
  • Grab sampling
  • Liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS)
  • Pharmaceutical residues
  • Risk assessment


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