Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are medications used individually or as mixtures with other pharmaceuticals for the treatment of various illnesses. Their easy accessibility and high human consumption have resulted to their detection at high concentrations in South African water resources. In the present work, an extensive review of the occurrence and ecotoxicological risk assessment of NSAIDs in South African aquatic environment is provided. Reviewed literature suggested ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac, ketoprofen and fenoprofen as the most prominent NSAIDs in the South African aquatic environment. Among these NSAIDs, higher concentrations of ibuprofen are common in South African waters. As a result, this drug was found to pose high ecotoxicological risks towards the aquatic organisms with the highest risk quotients of 14.9 and 11.9 found for algae in surface water and wastewater, respectively. Like in other parts of the world, NSAIDs are not completely removed in wastewater treatment plants. Removal efficiencies below 0% due to higher concentrations of NSAIDs in wastewater effluents rather than influents were observed in certain instances. The detection of NSAIDs in sediments and aquatic plants could serve as the important starting step to investigate other means of NSAIDs removal from water. In conclusion, recommendations regarding future studies that could paint a clearer picture regarding the occurrence and ecotoxicological risks posed by NSAIDs in South African aquatic environment are provided.
- Aquatic environment
- Ecotoxicological risk assessment
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Removal efficiency