Management of Environmental Risks in the Life Cycle of Human Pharmaceuticals in Lithuania
The paper analyzes and outlines the peculiarities and importance of different stages of the life cycle of human pharmaceuticals in Lithuania with regard to their environmental impact, and points out to the need of risk reduction measures.
Use stage and disposal of unused, unwanted or expired medicines are those stages when the biggest emissions occur and risk management is not adequate yet. Pharmaceuticals consumption distribution profile is presented in the article. Environmental risk assessment was carried out indicating that for Lithuania pharmaceutical substances consumed in amounts over 25 kg/year might be causing a risk to the environment. Three substances have PEC/PNEC ratios above 1 under the worst case calculations. In reality in spite of high environmental load, one of them - amoxicillin - is not likely to pose a risk due to its low environmantal stability and high removal rates in WWTPs. The other two substances show a potential of environmental risk even after calculation of the refined PEC/PNEC ratio. The importance of proper wastewater treatment needs to be underlined due to inevitable excretion of pharmaceutical substances from the use phase.
The most popular way to dispose of unused, unwanted or expired medicines in Lithuania is via the household waste. The system for collection of residual medicines is not properly functioning yet. Good management of environmental risk requires establishment of an effective system to collect and destroy pharmaceuticals in an environmentally sound manner.