This study highlights the transport of emerging pollutants through the source-to-sea hydrological cycle. Based on a UNESCO–HELCOM study on pharmaceuticals in the aquatic environment in the Baltic Sea region, it presents information on pharmaceutical sales and the detection of different types of pharmaceuticals in wastewater, sludge, river water, seawater, ocean sediment and marine biota. It highlights the new science-based policy developments and commitments to reduce the discharge of emerging pollutants into aquatic environments in the Baltic Sea region that have been developed in the framework of HELCOM. It concludes with recommendations for future research and policy responses.

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