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GLRPPR Sector Resource: Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products: A Critical Review of the Impacts on Fish Reproduction

Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products: A Critical Review of the Impacts on Fish Reproduction

Research in environmental toxicology involving pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) has increased greatly over the last 10-15 years. Much research has been focused on the endocrine-disrupting potential of PPCPs, as they relate to negative population impacts of aquatic organisms. This review assesses the current data on the reported effects of PPCPs on fish reproduction with an emphasis on fecundity, a predictor of population effects. Studies of both individual PPCPs and PPCP mixtures are presented. As the majority of individual PPCP studies reviewed demonstrate negative effects on fish fecundity, we relate these findings to detected surface water concentrations of these compounds. Very few studies involving PPCP mixtures have been conducted; however, the need for these types of studies is warranted as fish are most likely exposed to mixtures of PPCPs in the wild. In addition, laboratory and field assessments of wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluents, a major source of PPCPs, are reviewed. Much of the data provided from these assessments are variable and do not generally demonstrate negative impacts on reproduction, or the studies are unable to directly associate observed effects with WWTP effluents. Finally, future research considerations are outlined to provide an avenue into understanding how wild populations of fish are affected by PPCPs. These considerations are aimed at determining the adaptation potential of fish exposed to mixtures of PPCPs over multiple generations. As global use of PPCPs continually rises, the need to discern the effects of chronic exposure to PPCPs is greatly increased.


National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)

Resource Type:

Date of Publication:
July 2015

Associated Sectors:

GLRPPR is a member of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange, a national network of regional information centers: NEWMOA (Northeast), WRRC (Southeast), GLRPPR (Great Lakes), ZeroWasteNet (Southwest), P2RIC (Plains), Peaks to Prairies (Mountain), WSPPN (Pacific Southwest), PPRC (Northwest).


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