PREMIER works on a multi-season study to monitor pharmaceuticals in surface water across Europe

The IMI project PREMIER is adding knowledge on pharmaceuticals in the environment by analysing surface water concentrations across various European countries and across time. The study will provide data on the concentrations of pharmaceuticals present in European rivers and comparing these to environmental threshold concentrations.  

 The PREMIER project develops a European spatial exposure modelling framework for active pharmaceutical ingredients and their transformation products in surface waters. PREMIER aims to validate parts of this  modelling framework using targeted monitoring studies and existing datasets on the occurrence of pharmaceuticals in the European environment.  As part of this work, teams led by the University of York have been sampling river water in catchments in Northern, Central and Southern Europe. Samples are being analysed for an existing suite of 61 pharmaceuticals covering a range of therapeutic classes and properties. This study builds on the Global Monitoring of Pharmaceuticals Project, which carried out a study on pharmaceutical pollution across 258 rivers worldwide (published in February 2022 in PNAS). Now, the PREMIER project is incorporating a temporal dimension by sampling at four occasions across the year. This will allow PREMIER to have timecourse data to allow a more comprehensive understanding of the presence of pharmaceuticals in European surface waters. 

 The PREMIER team has recruited 37 collaborators across Europe to collect river samples in 31 countries between spring 2022 and spring 2023. This data will also help validating an expanded version of the ePiE model, which models the path of a pharmaceutical from the moment the medicine is taken by a patient, to its distribution in a river.  

 “The environmental monitoring of river water we’re undertaking in the PREMIER project will contribute a unique and novel perspective on our understanding of how pharmaceuticals contaminate the environment. This is the first large-scale international attempt to study the temporal trends in pharmaceutical concentrations across Europe using truly comparable data.” 

Dr. John Wilkinson, Department of Environment and Geography, University of York