Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Drug used to treat skin conditions is a marine pollutant

24.03.2009
Clotrimazole is a common ingredient in over-the-counter skin creams. Recent results from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, now show that it is associated with major environmental risks.

"The pharmaceuticals and chemicals in everyday use form a mixture in the ocean that has a direct impact on the growth and reproduction of organisms", says scientist Tobias Porsbring.

When Euorpean authorities assess environmental risks, they often do so for one chemical at a time. Recent research, however, shows that the hazardous chemicals that humans spread in the environment do not work alone. Chemicals, drugs and personal-care products that accompany wastewater often end up in the oceans, where they form a "cocktail" of chemicals. This "cocktail-effect" may be more harmful than the individual chemicals alone.

Environmental risks

Scientist Tobias Porsbring at the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at the University of Gothenburg has studied natural communities of microalgae along the Swedish west coast. He presents results in his doctoral thesis that show how the use of a common agent against skin fungi, clotrimazole, is associated with major environmental risks.

"The levels of clotrimazole that are measured in the environment affect the synthesis of sterols in the algae, and these are important in several functions in the algal cells. The growth and reproduction of the algae are disturbed. Single-cell microalgae are the fundamental basis of the ocean food chain, and the use of clotrimazole thus may affect the complete ocean ecosystem", says Tobias Porsbring.

"Cocktail effect" on microalgae

Clotrimazole, however, does not act alone in the ocean ecosystem. Many other substances are often found in the oceans, including propranolol (a drug to lower blood pressure), triclosan (an anti-bacterial agent commonly found in soap and deodorants), fluoxetine (an anti-depressant pharmaceutical) and zinc pyrithione (found in anti-dandruff shampoos). The results that Tobias Porsbring presents show that a mixture of such compounds forms a "cocktail effect" that has a direct impact on the growth of the microalgal community.

Theoretical model

The fact that low levels of a pollutant that are insufficient to cause a detectable effect may contribute to a larger, combined effect with other chemicals emphasises that cocktail effects are a real environmental problem. Despite this, assessments of environmental risk are usually carried out on one chemical at a time. Through knowledge of environmental levels and the impact of individual chemicals Tobias Porsbring's thesis launch a theoretical model for calculating how cocktail effects arise. This model can be used to obtain highly reliable estimates of the composite environmental risk from mixtures of chemicals in the ocean ecosystem.

The thesis "On Toxicant-Induced Succession in Periphyton Communities: Effects of Single Chemicals and Chemical Mixtures" was defended at a disputation on 20 March. Tobias Porsbring's supervisor was Professor Hans Blanck.

This doctoral thesis was produced as a collection of papers:
Paper I. Porsbring T, Arrhenius Å, Backhaus T, Kuylenstierna M, Scholze M, Blanck H (2007) The SWIFT periphyton test for high-capacity assessments of toxicant effects on microalgal community development. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 349:299-312
Paper II. Porsbring T, Blanck H, Tjellström H, Backhaus T (2009) Toxicity of the
pharmaceutical clotrimazole to marine microalgal communities. Aquatic Toxicology 91:203-211
Paper III. Porsbring T, Backhaus T, Johansson P, Kuylenstierna M, Blanck H. Mixture toxicity from PSII inhibitors on microalgal community succession is predictable by Concentration Addition. Manuscript
Paper IV. Backhaus T, Porsbring T, Arrhenius Å, Blanck H. Single substance and mixture toxicity of 5 pharmaceuticals and personal care products to marine periphyton communities.

Manuscript

Contact
Tobias Porsbring, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg
Mobile: 46 704 395676
Work tel: 46 31 786 2626
Home tel: 46 31 707 4507
tobias.porsbring@dpes.gu.se
Press information: Krister Svahn
krister.svahn@science.gu.se
46 (0)31 786 49 12

Helena Aaberg | idw
Further information:
http://hdl.handle.net/2077/19289
http://www.gu.se/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami go live
15.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

nachricht New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists
15.12.2017 | Louisiana State University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>