Human & Environmental Risk Assessment of Pharmaceuticals

Monday 25 September 2023, 10:30 am
PhD student
D.J. Da Silva Tavares Duarte MSc.
prof. dr. A.M.J. Ragas
dr. R. Oldenkamp

Pharmaceuticals are an indispensable tool against disease and morbidity in humans and animals. However, their use also poses some challenges and can lead to undesirable consequences, some of the most concerning of which are increased environmental pollution and antimicrobial resistance. The assessment of the environmental and human health risks posed by pharmaceuticals is a critical exercise to help make the best use of available knowledge to identify data gaps and prioritize strategies holding most promise. 
The goal of this dissertation was to assess the risks posed by pharmaceutical pollution to the aquatic system and humans via environmental exposure. The pharmaceutical concentrations and human activities in the transboundary European Vecht River were used to demonstrate this idea. In addition, the selective pressure potential of antibiotics over antibiotic-resistance genes was investigated in artificial and natural environments. 
Taken together, in this dissertation we demonstrate how risk assessment remains a resourceful tool to support targeted emission and exposure reduction strategies by (local) responsible authorities. Using, statistical and mathematical modelling, we contributed to the advancement of tailored human and environmental risk assessment of pharmaceuticals and antimicrobial resistance in the environment. 

Daniel João Duarte is a scientist specialized in assessing risks of pollution to human health and the environment. His main interest and expertise lie in the field of interdisciplinary research. As a toxicologist, Daniel has conducted and coordinated research on the effects and risks of pollutants, such as organophosphates and metals. Recently, Daniel has focused on modelling the exposure and effects of contaminants of emerging concern, such as pharmaceuticals, as well as antimicrobial resistance in water environments. In addition to his scientific experience, Daniel held positions in organizations focused on health and environmental policy and has assisted in European risk assessment procedures from a regulatory standpoint. Currently, Daniel works as a scientific researcher at KWR. In the Chemical Water Quality and Health team, he is involved in multiple projects related to the integration of new approaches for testing and assessing potential adverse effects of (drinking) water contaminants and risk assessment of emerging pollutants.