Modern methods for water analysis make it possible to detect small concentrations of anthropogenic trace pollutants, such as e. g. pharmaceuticals and substances exhibiting hormone activity. There is no doubt that pharmaceuticals are present in our water bodies and their presence has been proven by various examples. However, natural and technical barriers guarantee that for the time being residues of anthropogenic trace pollutants in drinking water give no cause for direct health concerns. Nevertheless, immediate actions are necessary for protecting aquatic biocoenoses.
This issue of DWA-Topics describes methods for assessing ecotoxicology and human toxicology of pharmaceuticals. Requirements for technical processes and developments in drinking water production and wastewater treatment are derived from the results of these assessments. Possible approaches are discussed in this issue. In the long run however, the focus must be on measures for avoiding, eliminating and recycling of organic pollutants at the source of contamination. To achieve this, this issue of DWA-Topics introduces various strategies.