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Research article2019Peer reviewedOpen access

Stability and uptake of methylphenidate and ritalinic acid in nine-spine stickleback (Pungitius pungitius) and water louse (Asellus aquaticus)

McCallum, Erin S.; Lindberg, Richard H.; Andersson, Patrik L.; Brodin, Tomas


The presence of human pharmaceuticals in the environment has garnered significant research attention because these compounds may exert therapeutic effects on exposed wildlife. Yet, for many compounds, there is still little research documenting their stability in the water column and uptake in organism tissues. Here, we measured the uptake and stability of methylphenidate (Ritalin (R), a frequently prescribed central nervous system stimulant) and its primary metabolite, ritalinic acid, in (1) water only or (2) with nine-spine stickleback and water louse. Methylphenidate degraded to ritalinic acid in both studies faster at a higher temperature (20 degrees C versus 10 degrees C), with concentrations of ritalinic acid surpassing methylphenidate after 48-100 h, depending on temperature. The concentration of methylphenidate in stickleback was highest at the first sampling point (60 min), while the concentration in water louse tissues reached comparatively higher levels and peaked after similar to 6 days. Neither stickleback nor water louse took up ritalinic acid in tissues despite being present in the water column. Our findings provide valuable data for use in future risk assessment of methylphenidate and will aid in the design of studies aimed at measuring any ecotoxicological effects on, for example, the behaviour or physiology of aquatic organisms.


Pharmaceuticals; Ecotoxicology; Stimulant; Behaviour; Methylphenidate; Aquatic organisms

Published in

Environmental Science and Pollution Research
2019, Volume: 26, number: 9, pages: 9371-9378

      Sustainable Development Goals

      SDG6 Clean water and sanitation
      SDG14 Life below water

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Environmental Sciences

      Publication identifier


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