Pharmaceutical and Microplastic Pollution before and during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Surface Water, Wastewater, and Groundwater

Reza Pashaei*, Reda Dzingeleviciene, Aida Bradauskaite, Alireza Lajevardipour, Malgorzata Mlynska-Szultka, Nerijus Dzingelevicius, Saulius Raugele, Arturas Razbadauskas, Sajjad Abbasi, RM Rees, Boguslaw Buszewski

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    11 Citations (Scopus)
    67 Downloads (Pure)


    Pharmaceuticals, microplastics, and oil spills are the most hazardous contaminants in aquatic environments. The COVID-19 pandemic enhanced pharmaceutical and microplastic contamination in aquatic environments. The present study aimed to investigate the prevalence of pharmaceutical and microplastic pollution on a global scale. This study assessed the results of pharmaceutical contamination in 25 countries and microplastic pollution in 13 countries. The findings show that pharmaceutical residues were detected in surface water, groundwater, and wastewater influents and effluents. In total, 43 types of pharmaceutical products were detected in 25 countries. Caffeine, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, sulfamethoxazole, and carbamazepine were the most abundant. In total, 32 types of polymers were detected in 13 countries. In the case of microplastics, polypropylene, polyethylene, polystyrene, and polyethylene terephthalate were the more abundant polymers. Particles with a size of 1–2.5 mm and 2.5–5 mm accounted for half of the microplastics present in 13 countries. This study provides new evidence of the importance of emerging pollutants in aquatic environments before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number3082
    Issue number19
    Early online date30 Sept 2022
    Publication statusFirst published - 30 Sept 2022


    • Pharmaceuticals
    • micro-plastics
    • COVID-19
    • Water contamination
    • emerging pollutants
    • water contamination
    • microplastics
    • pharmaceuticals


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