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Fate and effects of Pharmaceuticals in Soil-Plants System

Final Report Summary - PHARMASOILS (Fate and effects of Pharmaceuticals in Soil-Plants System)

The PHARMASOILS research project aims at investigating the uptake of human and veterinary pharmaceuticals mixtures, applied to soils in manure and sludge, by crop plants and to assess the effects on plant health and plant-derived food safety. The interdisciplinary approach used in the project PHARMASOILS combines 1) a desk based literature review and development of a prioritization scheme 2) development of analytical methodologies, (3) studies of toxicity and uptake of pharmaceuticals in hydroponic cultures and soils and 4) an assessment of the potential risks of pharmaceuticals in UK agricultural environments.

To achieve the proposed goals, the implementation of the PHARMASOILS project was divided into three phases of work. The first part was focused on the selection of compounds, development the techniques for analysis of compounds and setting up the experiments whereas the second part was devoted to performing the experiment itself, the analysis and integration of the experimental data and the development of project conclusions and recommendations. The last part of project has been dedicated to the efficient dissemination of the results through attendance at scientific meetings and preparation of publications for specialized journals.

The PHARMASOILS project has also provided a better knowledge of and useful information concerning the toxic effects and uptake of pharmaceuticals from soils into plants. In addition, an identification of a key mixture of pharmaceuticals was established with regard to its potential risk to the UK agricultural environment and its relevance to investigation of crop production and food safety. In this context, it has been also demonstrated that although it is improbable that the phytotoxic effects of the study pharmaceuticals could cause mortality in plants at the concentration levels normally found in the agricultural soils, they could affect crop growth and hence, reduce agricultural productivity.

On other hand, from the basis of experimental data obtained, the potential rissk posed to the general population from exposure to each of the chemicals selected has been assessed. Also a better basis has been provided for assessing the potential risks associated with mixtures of substances that are likely to occur in environment. In this regard, it was found that the study compounds pose only limited health risk to the UK population, and even agricultural soils containing the predicted worst-case levels of each of the study pharmaceuticals studied would not constitute a significant risk to human health.

Finally, the overall results obtained in the PHARMASOILS project constitute a useful tool for predicting which pharmaceuticals have the highest potential for uptake into plants following typical usage patterns and a clear benefit to the crop productivity and food safety. Thus, the original and fundamental aspects of this proposal have important implications for agriculture because crop development and sustainability is a key determinant of the predictability of crop yields and income to the farmer.

Regarding the dissemination strategy of the project, the presentation of the obtained research results at international meetings and publications in international journals has allowed for the transfer of knowledge and information in order to add to the overall coherence of the project within the wider scientific community. The implementation of PHARMASOILS research project has also assisted the career development of the fellow, allowing collaborations to be established with other experts and hence, improving and complementing her individual expertise to be applied in new grant proposals and upcoming projects.

Taking into account the milestone accomplished, the developed research capacity, the effective dissemination activities and the publications generated, the PHARMASOILS project successfully achieved the technical goals and the overall objectives.

Scientist in charge:
Prof. Alistair Boxall
Environment Department
Wentworth Way
University of York
Heslington, York, North Yorkshire YO10 5NG, UK
Tel: +(44) 01904 324791

Marie-Curie Fellow:
Dr. Erkuden Perez Carrera
Environment Department
Wentworth Way
University of York
Heslington, York, North Yorkshire YO10 5NG, UK
Tel: (+44)7794707518
E-mail: erkuden.perezcarrera erkuden.perezcarrera
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