Clear waters from pharmaceuticals

October 2017 -
March 2021


Policy area:
2. Natural resources 2.1 Clear waters


Active pharmaceutical ingredients are active medicines, e.g. hormones, analgesics and antibiotics, that contaminate the water and marine life if disposed into the Baltic Sea. Following HELCOM’s status report on pharmaceuticals, partners from seven countries work on tools and recommendations for policy makers, authorities and municipalities to map sources and environmental concentrations of these ingredients and propose methods to reduce these harmful emissions.


Active pharmaceutical ingredients

Contamination of water with residues of active pharmaceutical ingredient (APIs), such as hormones, analgesics and antibiotics, is an emerging environmental concern. CWPharma gives tools and recommendations to policy makers, authorities and municipalities on the best ways to reduce emissions of APIs in the Baltic Sea region.

How to tackle emissions of APIs?

The CWPharma project works on reducing information gaps regarding sources, emissions and environmental concentrations of APIs, identified in e.g. HELCOM status report on pharmaceuticals in the Baltic Sea. Based on data from the case studies and literature, the overall emissions of APIs and their impact on the environment in the Baltic Sea region are assessed. The project evaluates different API emission reduction measures, such as advanced wastewater treatment, improved take-back schemes and disposal for unused medicines, dissemination of environmental data on pharmaceutical products, and environmental permitting of pharmaceutical plants. The best existing practices of the partner countries shall be shared in order to promote the sustainable management of APIs in the Baltic Sea region.

Project’s outputs

CWPharma identifies the relevant API emission sources, increases knowledge on API use, emissions and occurrence in aquatic environment, and suggests practical measures to reduce the API emissions in the Baltic Sea region. The project outputs shall help a lot of stakeholders, from wastewater treatment plant operators and doctors to authorities, to work on reducing the API emissions into the environment.

Highlights by mid-term:

Partners from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Poland and Sweden worked together to get a more complete and reliable picture of contamination by pharmaceuticals in the Baltic Sea region. This was done through filling in data gaps in concentrations of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) e.g. in Poland, Latvia and Estonia. To achieve that the partners performed sampling and analyses of APIs in various matrices, including sludge, soil and landfills. The partners reviewed national collection and disposal schemes to prepare the recommendations on good practices for take-back and disposal of unused medicines in the Baltic Sea region.

Partners from Denmark, Germany, Finland and Sweden worked on optimising advanced wastewater treatment techniques to achieve the best removal of pharmaceuticals. Optimised treatment was piloted in Kalundborg (Germany), Linköping (Sweden) and Helsinki (Finland). The partners discussed the project findings with permitting authorities, pharma industry, wastewater treatment utilities, researchers, engineering and consulting companies, veterinarians, pharmacists and doctors during national meetings, project seminars and workshops.

Project Stories


€ 3.73
€ 2.88
Eni + Russia
€ 0.00
€ 0.00


Social Media


Project manager

Finnish Environment Institution

Noora Perkola

358 295 251 507

Legal representative

Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)

Tero Eklin

358 295 251 852

Financial manager

Finnish Environment Institute

Maria Koski

358 295 251 310

Communication manager

Finnish environment institute

Sirpa Mäkinen

358 295 251 502