PharmaTea: Assessing ecological sensitivity to pharmaceutical pollution using the Tea Bag Index

  • William Ross Hunter (Speaker)
  • Judith Maria Sarneel (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


Global pharmaceutical use is increasing by ~ 3 % annually, yet pharmaceutical removal via wastewater treatment is inefficient. Consequently, low concentrations of pharmaceuticals are constantly released into the aquatic environment. Pharmaceuticals are designed to be clinically effective at low concentrations, and thus present a threat to the functioning of aquatic ecosystems. There is, therefore, a need to develop methodological tools to assess ecological sensitivity to pharmaceuticals within aquatic environments
The Tea Bag Index is a low-cost method of quantifying microbial activity in soils, by measuring the decay rates of green and rooibos tea as proxies for labile and recalcitrant organic matter. Here, we propose the use of the tea bag index within contaminant exposure experiments to assess microbial sensitivity to pharmaceuticals in aquatic ecosystems. We will present the results from experiments conducted across a range of urban and agricultural streams in both the UK and Sweden.
Period11 Dec 2019
Event titleBritish Ecological Society Annual Meeting 2019: Celebrating Global Ecology
Event typeConference
LocationBelfast, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational