Fate, effect and removal potential of xenobiotics present in aqueous matrices

Program at a glance

Funding Agencies

Cyprus Research Promotion Foundation (DESMI 2008), Republic of Cyprus, European Regional Development Fund

Program Period


Project Acronym


Project Code


Project Title

Fate, Effect and Removal Potential of Xenobiotics Present in Aqueous Matrices

Project Coordinator

Prof. Despo Fatta Kassinos, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Nireas – International Water research Center, University of Cyprus


Instituto de Diagnóstico Ambiental y Estudios del Agua (IDAEA)

Total Budget

396,372 €

Budget for Nireas-IWRC

387,172 €

Project Website


Program Overview

For much of the last thirty years, research on the effects of chemical pollution on the environment has focused almost exclusively on ‘conventional’ priority pollutants. However, during the last several years there has been a growing level of concern related to the hypothesis that various chemicals may exhibit endocrine disrupting effects. The focus of environmental analysis and determination of chemicals in the environment has recently been extended from the more classical pollutants to new contaminant categories including pharmaceuticals and also drugs of abuse. This is attributed mainly to the development of new analytical techniques including liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS2), Ultra-performance liquid chromatography (UPLC) quadrupole-time-of-flight spectrometry (Q-TF-MS) or tandem MS, which enable the determination of such compounds down to the ng/L level.

The innovation of IX-AQUA research was based on the development and implementation of advanced analytical techniques that spearheaded the investigations on the following three topics: (1) existence of pharmaceuticals and drugs abuse in aqueous matrices down to the ppt level by development of new techniques on UPLC; (2) evaluation of the degradation/removal efficiency during existing and new/advanced treatment methods through investigations in industrial/pilot/bench scale plants using the techniques that will be developed (use of UPLC) and (3) assessment of the impact of pharmaceuticals/drugs abuse and of their transformation products towards environment and humans (i) use of mechanistic understanding of toxic effects to develop more informative and efficient test systems, (ii) study of the potential disruption on cultured human cells, and (iii) develop a system able to screen substances for effects on human genes.

The IX-AQUA research project aimed at: (1)developing/optimizing of and training on effective analytical protocols capable of monitoring pharmaceutical residues, drugs of abuse and chlorinated by-products in water and wastewater matrices; (2) developing of new impact assessment systems that will help scientists to reach conclusions concerning the potency of selected xenobiotics towards humans and other organisms, but in relation to low doses and long time of exposure; (3) evaluating of the potential impacts of compounds that resist degradation, as well as breakdown products (metabolites) of more labile (degradable) contaminants that are formed during wastewater treatment; (4) investigating of the fate and behavior of selected xenobiotic compounds during various wastewater treatment trains – determination of the treatment trains that are more efficient in removing the xenobiotics of concern from wastewater; (5) promoting of innovative technologies capable of removing ‘emerging compounds’ from wastewater scheduled for reuse, that will utilize the abundant solar energy in areas in the Euro-Mediterranean basin and reduce the energy finger print of this region in the Urban Wastewater Treatment sector, and (6) increasing of the acceptance of water reuse for agricultural and urban irrigation and groundwater recharge and therefore help reduce the water scarcity in water-stressed regions in the Euro-Mediterranean basin by providing them water free of residual organic compounds.

Working Packages

WP1: Project Management

WP2: Dissemination and Exploitation of Results

WP3: Development, training, application of advanced analytical methods for xenobiotics analysis

WP4: Development and application of advanced biological methods for xenobiotics impact

WP5: Investigation of the fate and behaviour of xenobiotics in various treatment trains

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