A Review on Contaminants of Emerging Concern in the Environment: A Focus on Active Chemicals in Sub-Saharan Africa
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: Active chemicals are among the contaminants of emerging concern that are rarely covered in regulatory documents in sub-Saharan Africa. These substances are neither in the list of routinely monitored substances nor in the guidelines for routine environmental monitoring activities. This has been of concern to public health officials, toxicologists, communities, and governments, hence the need for risk assessment and regulation of these substances. In this review article, the presence of active chemicals in the sub-Saharan African environment was investigated. The results indicate the availability of few studies in some countries, while in other countries no reports of active chemicals were found, hence the need for further research targeting such countries. It was further observed that mixtures of active chemicals from different therapeutic categories—such as antibiotics and analgesics—were reported. The natural environment is increasingly at risk due to the presence of these substances, their metabolites, and their transformation byproducts. These substances are characterized by persistence as a result of their non-biodegradable nature; hence, they circulate from one environmental compartment to another through the food chain, causing harm along the way. Most studies that evaluated the toxicity of these substances considered the effects of a single drug, but observations indicated the presence of drug mixtures, hence the need for further evaluation of the effects of drug–drug interactions—including synergistic and additive effects—for environmental sustainability. The presence of ACs in several environmental compartments at quantifiable quantities was discovered in this investigation, indicating the potential for ecosystem injury as a result of bioaccumulation, bioconcentration, and biomagnification through the food chain. This necessitates further research on the subject in order to ensure a healthier environment.