Effects of Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products on Marine Organisms: From Single-Species Studies to an Ecosystem-Based Approach

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Environmental Science and Pollution Research

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Marine ecology


Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) are contaminants of emerging concern that are increasing in use and have demonstrated negative effects on aquatic organisms. There is a growing body of literature reporting the effects of PPCPs on freshwater organisms, but studies on the effects of PPCPs to marine and estuarine organisms are limited. Among effect studies, the vast majority examines subcellular or cellular effects, with far fewer studies examining organismal- and community-level effects. We reviewed the current published literature on marine and estuarine algae, invertebrates, fish, and mammals exposed to PPCPs, in order to expand upon current reviews. This paper builds on previous reviews of PPCP contamination in marine environments, filling prior literature gaps and adding consideration of ecosystem function and level of knowledge across marine habitat types. Finally, we reviewed and compiled data gaps suggested by current researchers and reviewers and propose a multi-level model to expand the focus of current PPCP research beyond laboratory studies. This model includes examination of direct ecological effects including food web and disease dynamics, biodiversity, community composition, and other ecosystem-level indicators of contaminant-driven change.


The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11356-016-7282-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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