Strategies to prevent Gd3+ in drinking water

In order to enhance the quality of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) gadolinium-based contrast agents are routinely administered. After 30 years of application of these contrast agents increasing gadolinium concentrations are being detected worldwide, both in wastewater and drinking water. However, little is known about the stability and transformation of these gadolinium complexes.

BMBF One critical aspect is the exact identification of gadolinium species. While the original gadolinium complexes do not present an immediate risk, free Gd3+ is considered toxic. Routine procedures during drinking water treatment could cause the release of Gd3+, especially during oxidative steps. Thus, the aim of project Gadsafe is to develop strategies that will prevent the introduction of Gd3+ into drinking water. Two complementary approaches are being investigated in cooperation with the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla in Mexico (Fig. 1):

  • strategy I: employ sorption materials to remove gadolinium-based contrast agents from urine
  • strategy II: prevent the release of free Gd3+ from contrast agents during drinking water treatment

Based on these two strategies, the project goal is to gain a better understanding of possible transformation processes of gadolinium-based contrast agents. The results can then serve as a basis to prevent a future increase of Gd3+ in drinking water.

Projektplan Fig. 1: Strategies I and II that will be investigated over the course of the Gadsafe project in order to prevent the release of Gd3+ into drinking water.

Project partner: BUAP

This project is being conducted in cooperation with

Dr. María P. Elizalde-González of the

Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla


  • Elizalde-González, M.P., García-Díaz, E., González-Perea, M., Mattusch, J., (2017): Removal of gadolinium-based contrast agents: adsorption on activated carbon. Environ. Sci. Pollut. Res. 24 (9), 8164 - 8175