Environmental distribution, aquacultural consequences and development of nature-based water treatment technologies for mass pharmaceutical interventio

Lead Research Organisation: CARDIFF UNIVERSITY
Department Name: Chemistry


Wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) have poor removal rates for pharmaceuticals resulting in potential contamination of drinking water. The long-term effects of exposure and consequential unintended effects are unknown and risk antimicrobial resistance. To tackle this issue, improvements are needed to current techniques used to remove contaminants from water in together with changes in policy and regulation to prevent unnecessary levels of pollution. Therefore, it is vital that drug treatments are considered in the context of their impact on the environment and ultimately their entry into a major source of food (aquaculture systems) and water (drinking water) to prevent creating another threat to life.

Working with the Schools of Chemistry, Biosciences and Engineering at Cardiff University and the Department of Life Sciences at Aberystwyth University, the student will determine the environmental fate, impact and efficacy of different removal methods of veterinary drugs.
Specific aims:
1. A library of target drugs will be created using solutions spiked with known drugs to facilitate drug identification in wild samples. This library will serve as a platform for all other analyses. Water samples from WWTP and river systems will be chemically analysed to determine levels of pharmaceuticals in the environment.
2. Levels of acute toxicity of target pharmaceuticals will be determined using biological assays and where possible compared to mathematical models (ECOSAR & QSAR) to evaluate the accuracy of such models.
3. Bioassays, using the established Guppy-Gyrodactylus host-pathogen system, will assess the ecotoxicity of key veterinary pharmaceuticals on host mortality, growth, disease susceptibility and welfare. Tissue samples can be analysed for lipid contents to define how exposure will affect the quality of fish for aquaculture purposes as well as metabolomics analysis to understand how fish metabolise the compounds.
4. Current methodologies for water treatment will be tested against selected pharmaceuticals to determine efficiency rates and develop technologies to improve elimination. End of pipe technologies can then be coupled with policy and regulatory changes as a multi-faceted method of reducing levels of veterinary pharmaceuticals found within water.
5. Review the policy and regulations around veterinary pharmaceutical development and potential pathways to reduce their environmental footprint.

Together the results of these aims will improve 1) the future disease management and treatment by highlighting the threat to the aquaculture industry from veterinary pharmacological treatments; 2) water treatment technology by increasing the detection and removal rates of pharmaceuticals from water; 3) drug development and regulation with a review into potential green pharmacy alternatives to prevent pollution before it happens.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
NE/X016714/1 30/09/2023 29/09/2029
2887314 Studentship NE/X016714/1 30/09/2023 30/03/2027 Stephen Cheung