Research Topic

Micropollutants in the Aquatic Environment

About this Research Topic

Micropollutants (MPs) consist of natural and anthropogenic substances, including pharmaceuticals, antibiotics, personal care products, but often pesticides and industrial chemicals. This group of chemicals has raised global concern for their potentially damaging environmental impacts. These MPs are poorly removed during the wastewater treatment process meaning they commonly end up in natural waters. Despite they are present in the environment at sub-µg levels they still possess quite high biological activity, often of endocrine-disrupting potential. As antibiotics are a vital part of the MPs’ group there is a greater risk of enhanced microbial resistance. Therefore, this hazard must be mitigated, especially during the wastewater treatment process.

Given MPs’ widespread use in society (drugs and personal care products) and agriculture (veterinary pharmaceuticals and antibiotics), there are various routes by which these substances enter the freshwater environment, for instance via municipal sewer systems or with run-off from fields. General resistance to degradation cause that wastewater is one of the main sources of micropollutants, and sadly most of the current water treatment setup is not able to remove them effectively. Therefore, the vital part of the mitigation process are modern treatment technologies, utilizing both abiotic and biotic methods. In addition, it is necessary to compile information on risk analysis of microcontaminants in the environment, in particular in the aquatic environment used for multiple purposes. Finally, there is the often overlooked but still not certain “cocktail effect”, the synergistic impact of MPs’ mixtures.

Accurate quantification and monitoring campaigns of micropollutants in the environment require new, robust and reliable analytical methods. These should take into account the complex nature of matrices (i.e. sludge) and low concentrations of MPs.

This Research Topic aims to explore and discuss transdisciplinary research on current, up-to-date developments focused on the fate assessment, mitigation, and removal of micropollutants from the aquatic environment. This Research Topic aims to publish: original research, review papers, and short communications.

Areas to be covered in this Research Topic may include, but are not limited to, the following topics:

• Studies on the environmental occurrence, fate, and responses of MPs in the aquatic environment.
• Analytical methods that enhance the capabilities to determine MPs in various samples – water, wastewater, or sludge.
• Development and applications of water and wastewater treatment methods specific to micropollutants.
• Micropollutant biodegradation and degradation pathways.
• Management of antimicrobial resistance in the wastewater treatment process.
• Risk analysis on the presence of micropollutants and antimicrobial resistance in the environment.
• Modelling and computational tools supporting fieldwork and lab studies.


Keywords: micropollutants, pharmaceuticals, water, wastewater, (bio)degradation, fate, occurence, risk analysis


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Micropollutants (MPs) consist of natural and anthropogenic substances, including pharmaceuticals, antibiotics, personal care products, but often pesticides and industrial chemicals. This group of chemicals has raised global concern for their potentially damaging environmental impacts. These MPs are poorly removed during the wastewater treatment process meaning they commonly end up in natural waters. Despite they are present in the environment at sub-µg levels they still possess quite high biological activity, often of endocrine-disrupting potential. As antibiotics are a vital part of the MPs’ group there is a greater risk of enhanced microbial resistance. Therefore, this hazard must be mitigated, especially during the wastewater treatment process.

Given MPs’ widespread use in society (drugs and personal care products) and agriculture (veterinary pharmaceuticals and antibiotics), there are various routes by which these substances enter the freshwater environment, for instance via municipal sewer systems or with run-off from fields. General resistance to degradation cause that wastewater is one of the main sources of micropollutants, and sadly most of the current water treatment setup is not able to remove them effectively. Therefore, the vital part of the mitigation process are modern treatment technologies, utilizing both abiotic and biotic methods. In addition, it is necessary to compile information on risk analysis of microcontaminants in the environment, in particular in the aquatic environment used for multiple purposes. Finally, there is the often overlooked but still not certain “cocktail effect”, the synergistic impact of MPs’ mixtures.

Accurate quantification and monitoring campaigns of micropollutants in the environment require new, robust and reliable analytical methods. These should take into account the complex nature of matrices (i.e. sludge) and low concentrations of MPs.

This Research Topic aims to explore and discuss transdisciplinary research on current, up-to-date developments focused on the fate assessment, mitigation, and removal of micropollutants from the aquatic environment. This Research Topic aims to publish: original research, review papers, and short communications.

Areas to be covered in this Research Topic may include, but are not limited to, the following topics:

• Studies on the environmental occurrence, fate, and responses of MPs in the aquatic environment.
• Analytical methods that enhance the capabilities to determine MPs in various samples – water, wastewater, or sludge.
• Development and applications of water and wastewater treatment methods specific to micropollutants.
• Micropollutant biodegradation and degradation pathways.
• Management of antimicrobial resistance in the wastewater treatment process.
• Risk analysis on the presence of micropollutants and antimicrobial resistance in the environment.
• Modelling and computational tools supporting fieldwork and lab studies.


Keywords: micropollutants, pharmaceuticals, water, wastewater, (bio)degradation, fate, occurence, risk analysis


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

23 May 2021 Abstract
20 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

23 May 2021 Abstract
20 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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