Pharmaceutical Sorption to Lab Materials May Overestimate Rates of Removal in Lab-Scale Bioreactors

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC


Environmental contamination from pharmaceuticals has received increased attention from researchers in the past 20 years. As such, numerous lab-scale studies have sought to characterize the effects of these contaminants on various targets, as well as determine improved removal methods. Many studies have used lab-scale bioreactors to investigate pharmaceutical effects on wastewater bacteria, as wastewater treatment plants often act as reservoirs for pharmaceuticals. However, few—if any—of these studies report the specific lab materials used during testing, such as tubing or pipette tip type. In this study, the pharmaceuticals erythromycin, diclofenac, and gemfibrozil were exposed to different micropipette tips, syringe filters, and tubing types, and losses over time were evaluated. Losses to tubing and syringe filters were particularly significant and neared 100%, depending on the pharmaceutical compound and length of exposure time. Results discussed herein indicate that pharmaceutical sorption to various lab supplies results in decreases to both dosed and quantified pharmaceutical concentrations. Studies that fail to consider this source of loss may therefore draw inaccurate conclusions about pharmaceutical effects or removal efficiencies.


This version of the article has been accepted for publication, after peer review (when applicable) and is subject to Springer Nature’s AM terms of use, but is not the Version of Record and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections. The Version of Record is available online at:


Adsorption, Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs), Emerging contaminants


Bodle, K.B., Pernat, M.R. & Kirkland, C.M. Pharmaceutical Sorption to Lab Materials May Overestimate Rates of Removal in Lab-Scale Bioreactors. Water Air Soil Pollut 233, 505 (2022).
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