Probabilistic risk assessment of veterinary medicines applied to four major aquaculture species produced in ASIA

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Aquaculture production constitutes one of the main sources of pollution with veterinary medicines into the environment. About 90% of the global aquaculture production is produced in Asia and the potential environmental risks associated with the use of veterinary medicines in Asian aquaculture have not yet been properly evaluated. In this study we performed a probabilistic risk assessment for eight different aquaculture production scenarios in Asia by combining up-to-date information on the use of veterinary medicines and aquaculture production characteristics. The ERA-AQUA model was used to perform mass balances of veterinary medicinal treatments applied to aquaculture ponds and to characterize risks for primary producers, invertebrates, and fish potentially exposed to chemical residues through aquaculture effluents. The mass balance calculations showed that, on average, about 25% of the applied drug mass to aquaculture ponds is released into the environment, although this percentage varies with the chemical's properties, the mode of application, the cultured species density, and the water exchange rates in the aquaculture pond scenario. In general, the highest potential environmental risks were calculated for parasitic treatments, followed by disinfection and antibiotic treatments. Pangasius catfish production in Vietnam, followed by shrimp production in China, constitute possible hot-spots for environmental pollution due to the intensity of the aquaculture production and considerable discharge of toxic chemical residues into surrounding aquatic ecosystems. A risk-based ranking of compounds is provided for each of the evaluated scenarios, which offers crucial information for conducting further chemical and biological field and laboratory monitoring research. In addition, we discuss general knowledge gaps and research priorities for performing refined risk assessments of aquaculture medicines in the near future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)630-641
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • sensitivity distributions
  • antibiotic-resistance
  • ubiquitous occurrence
  • biological products
  • mangrove areas
  • shrimp ponds
  • chemicals
  • bacteria
  • water
  • sulfonamides


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