Pharmaceuticals have been detected in water throughout the developed world. Some, while at
low concentrations, can negatively affect freshwater wildlife. This thesis explores the level of risk that
pharmaceuticals pose to Ontario’s environment, and possible challenges and opportunities for
government action to address this issue. In addition to a literature review, this work replicates an
earlier similar study by collecting information directly from seven purposefully selected Ontario experts.
Results make it clear that pharmaceuticals pose some risk, but a consensus cannot be reached on the
level of risk. With limited financial resources, it is difficult to prioritize pharmaceutical removal over
other environmental problems without a clear understanding of the harm that pharmaceuticals pose.
Nevertheless, there are opportunities for government action. Ontario could follow what British
Columbia has done; it developed a Water Quality Guideline for pharmaceuticals that must be considered
by government when making decisions that could affect water quality.