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Ibuprofen Structural Formula
Ibuprofen Structural Formula
CAS Number: 15687-27-1
Synonyms: Advil, Brufen, Hydratropic acid, Ibufen, Motrin
Contaminant Type: Chemical

Ibuprofen is a common nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug widely used in the treatment of pain and fever. Its IUPAC name is 2-[4-(2-methylpropyl)phenyl]propanoic acid. It is marketed under the trade names of Advil and Motrin, among others. It is one of many chemicals included in a general group referred to as “pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs)”. Concern has stemmed from the low-level detection of PPCPs in surface waters and drinking water sources worldwide, though no adverse human health effects at these low levels are known. [1468]

It is not regulated in drinking water.

Ibuprofen is a chiral, propionic acid derivative which exhibits analgesic, fever-reducing, and anti-inflammatory action comparable to, and even surpassing that of aspirin and acetaminophen. [703] Ibuprofen is an important nonprescription drug, and is the third-most popular drug in the world. [700]

Although a significant portion of ibuprofen is degraded during wastewater treatment, the primary route with which ibuprofen enters surface waters is through wastewater treatment plant effluent. [699] It has a relatively high therapeutic dose of 600 to 1200 mg/d, 70-80% of which is excreted as the parent compound, or in the form of metabolites. [700] Incompletely absorbed medication is excreted into the sewage system along with unused drugs that may be disposed of via drains and toilets. [699] Other potential sources to the environment include leachate from landfill sites, run-off from agricultural land to which biosolids have been applied, and wastewater discharges from hospital wastes and industrial manufacturing. [697, 699]

Ibuprofen’s physiochemical properties (i.e. high water solubility, low volatility) suggest a high mobility in the aquatic environment, and consequently, it is a commonly detected PPCP in the environment [700, 1466, 1471] However, it is not very persistent and behaves differently in comparison to some other pharmaceutical compounds. [700]

Although the effects on humans from low-level drinking water contamination by PPCPs are not currently fully understood, pharmaceuticals are designed and created to have biological effects at low doses. [730, 1471, 1472] There is growing concern on the occurrence, fate, and possible effects of such substances in the environment. [700]

Date of Literature Search: July 2009

697 USEPA; 2009; Origins and fate of PPCPs in the environment; http://www.epa.gov/ppcp/pdf/drawing.pdf; As posted on August 20, 2009. USEPA Office of Research and Development, National Exposure Research Laboratory.
699 Bound, J. and Voulvoulis, N.; 2006; Predicted and measured concentrations for selected pharmaceuticals in UK rivers: implications for risk assessment; Water Research; 40:2885
700 Buser, H., Poiger, T. and Muller, M.; 1999; Occurence and environmental behavior of the chiral pharmaceutical drug ibuprofen in surface waters and in wastewater; Environ. Sci. Technol. ; 33:15:2529
703 Vardanyan, R. and Hruby, V.; 2006; Propionic acid derivatives; Synthesis of Essential Drugs; pp. 44-45., Elsevier Science & Technology.
730 Huber, M., Canonica, S., Park, G. and Gunten, U.; 2003; Oxidation of pharmaceuticals during ozonation and advanced oxidation processes; Environmental Science and Technology; 37:1016
1466 Vieno, N., Tuhkanen, T. and Kronberg, L.; 2005; Seasonal variation in the occurence of pharmaceuticals in effluents from a sewage treatment plant and in the recipient water; Environ. Sci. Technol. ; 39:8220
1468 Kim, S., Cho, J., Kim, I., Vanderford, B. and Snyder, S.; 2007; Occurence and removal of pharmaceuticals and endocrine disruptors in South Korean surface, drinking, and waste waters; Water Research; 41:1013
1471 Zwiener, C. and Frimmel, F.; 2000; Oxidative treatment of pharmaceuticals in water; Water Research ; 34:6:1881