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Hospital waste water: health risk for human and environment by cytostatic drug emissions? Part I: Model calculation and chemical monitoring

  • Maria Fuerhacker1,
  • Susanne N Mahnik1, 2,
  • Katharina Lenz1,
  • Norbert Weissenbacher1,
  • Robert M Mader2,
  • Petra Krenn2,
  • Stephan Hann1,
  • Gunda Koellensperger1,
  • Maria Uhl3,
  • Siegfried Knasmüller2,
  • Franziska Ferk2 and
  • Wilfried Bursch2Email author
BMC Pharmacology20077(Suppl 2):A69

Published: 14 November 2007


DoxorubicinCarboplatinSolid Phase ExtractionOxaliplatinEpirubicin


"Chemical analysis, risk assessment and elimination of selected cytostatic agents from hospital waste water", performed at the University Hospital (AKH) Vienna.


Drugs: 5-fluorouracil, doxorubicin, epirubicin, daunorubicin, cisplatin, carboplatin, oxaliplatin. Model calculation: Minimum, maximum annual average concentrations and cumulative amount in hospital sewage were calculated. Parameters: drug, water consumption in the oncologic in-patient treatment ward, renal human excretion rate. Chemical analysis: platinum compounds: ICP-MS (speciation analysis by on-line coupling of HPLC to ICP-MS), limits of detection: cisplatin (0.09 μg/l), carboplatin (0.1 μg/l), oxaliplatin (0.15 μg/l). Anthracyclines: solid phase extraction, HPLC and fluorescence detection (FLD), limits of detection: doxorubicin (0.05 μg/l), daunorubicin (0.06 μg/l). 5-Fluorouracil: solid phase extraction, capillary electrophoresis, limit of detection 1.7 μg/l. Chemical monitoring: waste water samples: effluent of (a) the total hospital (TH), (b) the oncological ward (OW), collected before dilution in the Vienna sewer system for a total period of 98 days.


Pt concentrations ranged from 3.2 to 266 μg/l; estimates revealed that about one third of the administered drugs was detected in the waste water of the oncologic ward. 5-Fluorouracil was detected in waste water up to 124 μg/l, doxorubicin up to 1.35 μg/l. The concentrations determined chemically agreed with the predictions based upon model calculations.

Authors’ Affiliations

BOKU University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria
Institute of Cancer Research, Clinics of Internal Medicine I, Medical University of Vienna, Austria
Umweltbundesamt, Vienna, Austria


© Fuerhacker et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2007

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd.