Illicit drugs and pharmaceuticals in swimming pool waters

G Fantuzzi, G Aggazzotti, E Righi, G Predieri, S Castiglioni, F Riva, E Zuccato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The occurrence of illicit drugs (cocaine, opioids, amphetamines and cannabis derivatives), some of their metabolites and 48 pharmaceuticals, was investigated in pool and source waters in ten Italian indoor swimming pools. The samples were analyzed by highperformance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS), after solid phase extraction (SPE). Cocaine and its metabolites were found in nine swimming pools, at concentrations from 0.3 to 4.2 ng/L for cocaine, 1.1 to 48.7 ng/L for norcocaine, 0.7 to 21.4 ng/L for benzoylecgonine and 0.1 to 7.3 ng/L for norbenzoylecgonine. Opioids, amphetamines and cannabis derivatives were never detected. The most frequent pharmaceuticals were anti-inflammatory drugs: ibuprofen was found in all the pool waters, with a maximum 197 ng/L and ketoprofen was detected in 9/10 samples (maximum 127 ng/L). Among anticonvulsants, carbamazepine and its metabolite, 10,11-dihydro-10,11dihydroxycarbamazepine, were frequent in swimming pool water (8/10 samples) at concentrations up to 62 ng/L. The cardiovascular drug valsartan was also found frequently (8/10 samples), but at lower concentrations (up to 9 ng/L). Other pharmaceuticals were detected occasionally and at lower concentrations (atenolol, enalapril, paracetamol, hydroclorothiazide, irbesartan and dehydro-erythromycin). Carbamazepine, irbesartan and dehydroerythromycin were detected at very low levels (up to 5 ng/L) in only one of the four source water samples. A quantitative risk assessment showed that the health risk for humans to these substance in swimming pool waters was generally negligible, even for vulnerable subpopulations such as children and adolescents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)956-963
Number of pages8
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1 2018


  • Amphetamines
  • Carbamazepine/analysis
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Cocaine/analogs & derivatives
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Humans
  • Ibuprofen
  • Ketoprofen
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations/analysis
  • Solid Phase Extraction
  • Street Drugs/analysis
  • Swimming Pools
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical/analysis


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