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Pharmaceuticals in the Environment

The Pharmaceuticals in the Environment research group (PIE) is a multi-disciplinary research initiative dealing with pharmaceuticals in the environment from both basic and applied research perspectives. In this network, we address issues essential for improving environmental risk assessment of pharmaceuticals in the environment; these issues concern the fate, uptake and effects of different groups of active ingredients found in aquatic environments.

Group photo PIE

The PIE research network addresses issues essential for improving environmental risk assessment of pharmaceuticals in the environment, such as the fate, uptake, and effects of different groups of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) predominantly found in aquatic environments – from the sewage system to aquatic recipients.

Regarding fate, we study chemical partitioning among different matrices such as sewage sludge, water, sediment, DOC, POC, and biota. We also develop analytical techniques for rapid and cost-effective analysis of different active ingredients and metabolites in these matrices. In our research regarding the uptake of pharmaceuticals in aquatic biota, we test the transformation, bioconcentration, and biomagnification potentials of these substances in aquatic systems with varying environmental gradients, such as pH.

Additionally, we study the effects of pharmaceuticals on non-target organisms at various organizational levels: molecular, organism, population, and community. At the molecular level, we identify which genes are targeted and how pharmaceutical exposure changes transcription patterns. At the higher levels, we investigate the effects of pharmaceuticals in several different model systems ranging from standardized tests using single species (e.g. Daphniaand molluscs), to predator-prey systems (e.g. zooplankton-fish), to natural bacterial communities and aquatic mesocosm communities/ecosystems. These systems allow us to elucidate direct and indirect effects of environmental concentrations of pharmaceuticals at multiple organizational levels in aquatic recipients.

Our research focuses on groups of pharmaceuticals including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and synthetic estrogenic hormones.

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Contact information

For more general information about the PIE group, please contact:

Olof Berglund
Senior Lecturer
Aquatic ecology

Telephone: +46 46-222 37 50
E-mail: Olof.Berglund [at]


Department of Biology/Aquatic Ecology
Ecology Building
SE-223 62 Lund

Visiting adress:

Ecology Building
Sölvegatan 37