A review on sustainable technologies for pharmaceutical elimination in wastewaters — a ubiquitous problem of modern society

Sanja Radovic, Sabolc Pap, Lydia Niemi, Jelena Prodanović, Maja Turk sekulic

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
118 Downloads (Pure)


The ever-growing consumption of pharmaceuticals (PhCs) and their constant occurrence in wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluents requires investigation of efficient, sustainable and economically feasible solutions for their removal. Conventional treatment processes within WWTPs are not capable of removing these micropollutants, which are the matter of significant environmental and public health concern. This review summarises attractive low-cost technologies for the treatment of PhCs loaded wastewaters with the focus on the commonly found and prioritised non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – diclofenac (DCF) and naproxen (NPX). Evaluation considered four single low-cost technologies (e.g., adsorption, coagulation/flocculation, algal ponds, and constructed wetlands) and some of their hybridisation/combination technologies. The main focus was to review their simplicity, availability, cost-effectiveness, environmental-friendliness and high efficiency for the removal of DCF and NPX under environmentally relevant conditions, as natural-based adaptation solutions promoted by the European Commission’s Mission Adaptation Approach. Additionally, technology deficiencies and potential solutions were evaluated. The results of the review showed that the inhibition of coexisting species in multicomponent matrices could be overcome by the application of hybrid/combined systems (up to 70 % higher PhCs removal rate in comparison to the single technology). The main trends and gaps in the knowledge are also highlighted along with perceptive comments and recommendations for future research directions related to the application of these technologies for water treatment at pilot- and industry-scale.
Original languageEnglish
Article number122121
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Molecular Liquids
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2023


  • Diclofenac
  • Naproxen
  • Circular economy
  • Water treatment
  • Adsorption


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