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Pharmaceutical Agents in the Water Cycle - START

Pharmaceutical Agents in the Water Cycle - START
Project team:

Bechmann, Gotthard (Project leader); Christian Büscher


Das Forschungsvorhaben wird vom Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) im Förderschwerpunkt "Sozial-ökologische Forschung" gefördert.

Start date:


End date:


Project partners:

Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung (ISOE), Institut für Umweltmedizin und Krankenhaushygiene am Universitätsklinikum Freiburg, J. W. Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main Fachbereichen Geowissenschaften/Geographie und Biowissenschaften.

Research area:

Knowledge society and knowledge policy

Project description

Pharmaceutical Agents in the Water Cycle

The presence of pharmaceutical agents in the water cycle poses an unpredictable and only partly controllable risk for drinking water supply systems. The conditions for the emergence and the dynamics of this systemic risk are as yet unidentified. Of particular interest are the roles and perspectives of the different actors: How do they perceive the risk and how does this perception influence the recognition of need for action and the implementation of management strategies? The research project "Management Strategies for Pharmaceuticals in Drinking Water (start)" addresses this problem with the aim to integrate different sectoral measures for the reduction of emissions of pharmaceuticals into a systemic management strategy.

Strategy Approaches

Preventive management strategies for pharmaceutical agents in drinking water can act on three individual sectors each with different time horizons:

  • Technical Approach (short- to mid-term): Conventional procedures for sewage treatment and drinking water processing are largely replaced by innovative procedures (e.g. membrane filtration, reversed osmosis).
  • Conduct Approach (mid- to long-term): Present prescription practices, use and disposal patterns of pharmaceuticals change towards a higher environmental sensibility.
  • Agent Approach (long-term): Innovations in sustainable pharmacy lead to the substitution of problematic agents by those which are simultaneously optimised for activity in humans and degradability in the environment.



Prof. Dr. Gotthard Bechmann
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe