Occurrences and removal of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in drinking water and water/sewage treatment plants: A review

Yi Yang, Yong Sik Ok, Ki Hyun Kim, Eilhann E. Kwon, Yiu Fai Tsang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1204 Citations (Scopus)


In recent years, many of micropollutants have been widely detected because of continuous input of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) into the environment and newly developed state-of-the-art analytical methods. PPCP residues are frequently detected in drinking water sources, sewage treatment plants (STPs), and water treatment plants (WTPs) due to their universal consumption, low human metabolic capability, and improper disposal. When partially metabolized PPCPs are transferred into STPs, they elicit negative effects on biological treatment processes; therefore, conventional STPs are insufficient when it comes to PPCP removal. Furthermore, the excreted metabolites may become secondary pollutants and can be further modified in receiving water bodies. Several advanced treatment systems, including membrane filtration, granular activated carbon, and advanced oxidation processes, have been used for the effective removal of individual PPCPs. This review covers the occurrence patterns of PPCPs in water environments and the techniques adopted for their treatment in STP/WTP unit processes operating in various countries. The aim of this review is to provide a comprehensive summary of the removal and fate of PPCPs in different treatment facilities as well as the optimum methods for their elimination in STP and WTP systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-320
Number of pages18
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Oct 15
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong SAR, China (Nos. 28300015 and 18202116), the Dean's Strategic Research Area Fund 2015–2016 of The Education University of Hong Kong (No. DSRAF-6 SP1), and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (No. 2016R1E1A1A01940995).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.


  • Contaminants of emerging concern (CECs)
  • PPCPs
  • Personal care products
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Removal efficiency
  • Water quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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