Environmental Risks and Pharmaceuticals: The Key Role of Pharmacies

Drugstore Customer (©andreeastock/Fotolia)

The Federal Environmental Agency’s handbook „Communication strategies for raising environmental awareness with regard to handling pharmaceuticals” lists the sensitization and qualification of pharmacists among its recommendations. It is the aim of the project to put this recommendation into practice

Research approach

Pharmacists are a key group when it comes to correctly handling pharmaceuticals besides doctors who describe drugs and patients who are taking them. Pharmacists advise and inform customers on how to properly apply their medication, what kind of side or reciprocal effects are to be expected and what they have to pay attention to. The project team will integrate the issue of environmental relevance of pharmaceutical residues and metabolites in water as a separate topic in education and training in order to sensitize prospective and practising pharmacists for the key role they are playing. To support this endeavor, strategic partners could be won from the community of pharmacists as well as from the field of academic education and professional training. Together with its practice partners, the project team will develop training material that will be applied and evaluated as a pilot scheme within education and training.


Pharmaceutical residues can nowadays be found in almost all surface waters, in the groundwater and occasionally even in drinking water. Pharmaceuticals enter the water cycle because of incorrect disposal but mainly as a result of adequate usage: After ingestion, active substances or their metabolites are again excreted by the patient. In order to reduce the entry of pharmaceutical substances into the water ISOE has developed a communication strategy on behalf of the Federal Environmental Agency. In this context, the sensitization and creation of awareness of pharmacists is of crucial significance.

Project partners

  • Eco-Institute e.V.
  • Prof. Dr. Klaus Kümmerer (EDC – Evaluation and Design of Chemicals)

Associated partners

  • Albert-Ludwig-University of Freiburg, Pharmaceutical and Medical Chemistry
  • Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Institute for Pharmaceutical Chemistry
  • Chamber of Pharmacists for Baden-Württemberg


ISOE was assigned with the project „The pharmacy as a central spot for environmentally conscious handling of pharmaceuticals” by the Federal Environmental Agency.


Winker, Martina/Konrad Götz (2020): Arzneimittel allgegenwärtig. Wirkstoffe und ihre Metabolite im Gewässer - was können Apotheker dagegen tun?. Deutsche Apotheker Zeitung 160 (52), 59-66

Winker, Martina/Konrad Götz/Klaus Kümmerer/Katja Moch/Roman Seidl (2020): Wissensvermittlung zu Arzneimittelrückständen im Wasser. Lehr- und Fortbildungskonzepte für Apothekerinnen und Apotheker. Im Auftrag des Umweltbundesamtes. Leitfäden und Handbücher Berlin

Winker, Martina/Katharina Braun/Konrad Götz/Klaus Kümmerer/Katja Moch/Roman Seidl/Michael Müller/Petra Mußler/Karina Witte/Günther Hanke (2020): Die Apotheke als zentraler Ort für den (umwelt-)bewussten Umgang mit Arzneimitteln. Im Auftrag des Umweltbundesamtes. UBA-Texte, 146. Berlin


2016/10 – 2019/07