Some 44% of the planet’s waterways contain high levels of pharmaceuticals, a new study claims
A shocking 43.5% of the world’s waterways are contaminated with drugs, according to a research team who published their findings on Wednesday in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.
Led by the University of York’s Alejandra Bouzas-Monroy, the researchers analyzed 1,052 samples across 104 countries and found 23 separate pharmaceutical compounds at levels exceeding those considered “safe.”Antidepressants, antihistamines and benzodiazepines were all included.
Surprisingly, more than three quarters (34.1%)) of all the locations where multiple samples were collected had more than one location, with different drug concentrations. “ecological concern.”
Bouzas Monroy claimed that the study was fraudulent. “the first global assessment”Waterways contaminated with pharmaceuticals should be drank immediately. “doing much more to reduce the emissions of these substances into the environment.”
Researchers took into account not only the presence of drugs in water, but also their effect on aquatic plants and fish. Antidepressants such as the antidepressant carbamazepine and the antipsychotic amitriptyline are well-known to alter enzyme activity in fish. The tranquilizer diazepam and the antidepressant citlopram both have a positive effect on animal behavior. Diabetes drug metformin and blood pressure medication propranolol both alter sexhormone activity in fish. Bouzas Monroy and her colleagues found all of them in waterways they studied.
Through bodily waste from both people and animals as well as runoff from drug manufacturing and farm facilities, pharmaceuticals can end up in waterways. The US Geological Survey began monitoring this problem in 2002 when at least seven chemicals were found in nearly half of all the waters it tested. Similar levels were found in 2019 by the US Geological Survey in 1,120 water sources and streams.
Bouzas-Monroy’s study also mentioned the high levels of non-pharmaceutical contamination plaguing the world’s waterways, from industrial chemicals and pesticides to heavy metals like lead.
Since the effects of trace amounts of these drugs on animals and humans has not been fully studied, US water utilities are not required to test their waters for any pharmaceuticals. Even if the impacts of pharmaceutical contaminants on local wildlife have been widely recognized, the motivation for action in surrounding communities may not be there.
Fluoxetine is the common name for the antidepressant Prozac. It causes behavioral changes in fish and makes them more aggressive in sexual pursuits. It is possible for the effect to persist up to three generations. Therefore, populations can be affected well after remediation has taken place.
Even when pollutants are not known to be harmful to people, such as the lead-rich water in Flint, Michigan and other metals around it, remediation can take many years if ever done properly.
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