Phytoremediation of Pharmaceutical Drugs

Authored by: Sonal Gahlawat , Pammi Gauba

Encyclopedia of Environmental Management

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  December  2012

Print ISBN: 9781439829271
eBook ISBN: 9781351235860
Adobe ISBN:


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Pharmaceutical drugs are essential for the treatment and prevention of diseases in humans as well as in animals. Presence of these, as xenobiotics, is instigating disturbing uncertainties toward environmental health. Classification of pharmaceutical drugs includes analgesics, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory, etc., depending on their action. With the growing demand in various sectors, scientists have detected their presence in different environmental domains. Several pathways have been identified responsible for their entry into the environment. Each pharmaceutical drug can be excreted either in a free form or in a metabolized one owing to its chemical properties. Blend of diverse pharmaceutical drugs along with their breakdown products may have undesirable effects on the environment. Such effects have already been established on animals and microorganisms, and further studies for analyzing their effects on humans are in progress. Conventional methods like pump-and-treat systems, activated sludge, excavation, etc., had been used for the removal of pharmaceutical drugs from the environment. However, their high costs and other disadvantages act as a limitation in their usage, thus creating a necessity for other alternatives. Phytoremediation has emerged as a promising technology for the removal of environmental contaminants. It is a technique utilizing the plant’s ability along with its rhizospheric microorganisms for the degradation of contaminants. Yet, further research regarding the implementation of phytoremediation in field studies is still vital, which can later form the basis for its commercialization.

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