Pharmaceuticals in rivers threaten world health – study

BBC ‘Pollution of the world’s rivers from medicines and pharmaceutical products poses a “threat to environmental and global health”, a report says (see link below). Paracetamol, nicotine, caffeine and epilepsy and diabetes drugs were widely detected in a University of York study. The research is among the most extensive undertaken on a global scale. The impact of many of the most common pharmaceutical compounds in rivers is still largely unknown. But it is already well established that dissolved human contraceptives can impact the development and reproduction of fish, and scientists fear the increased presence of antibiotics in rivers could limit their effectiveness as medicines.

The study sampled water from more than 1,000 test sites in more than 100 countries.

Overall, more than a quarter of the 258 rivers sampled had what are known as “active pharmaceutical ingredients” present at a level deemed unsafe for aquatic organisms.

‘Typically, what happens is, we take these chemicals, they have some desired effects on us and then they leave our bodies,” Dr John Wilkinson, who led the research, told BBC News.’

The full report has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.

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