River systems around the world are coursing with over-the-counter and prescription drugs waste which harms the environment, researchers have found.
If trends persist, the amount of pharmaceutical effluence leaching into waterways could increase by two-thirds before 2050, scientists told the European Geosciences Union conference in Vienna on Tuesday.
“A large part of the freshwater ecosystems is potentially endangered by the high concentration of pharmaceuticals,” said Francesco Bregoli, a researcher at the Delft institute for water education in the Netherlands, and leader of an international team that developed a method for tracking drug pollution “hotspots”.
A large number of drugs – analgesics, antibiotics, anti-platelet agents, hormones, psychiatric drugs, antihistamines – have been found at levels dangerous for wildlife.
Endocrine disruptors, for example, have induced sex changes in fish and amphibians.
Bregoli and his team used a common anti-inflammation drug, diclofenac, as a proxy to estimate the presence and spread of other medications in freshwater ecosystems.
Both the European Union and the US Environmental Protection Agency have identified diclofenac as an environmental threat. Veterinary use of it has driven a sub-species of vultures on the Indian subcontinent to the brink of extinction.
More than 10,000km of rivers around the world have concentrations of diclofenac above the EU “watch list” limit of 100 nanograms a litre, the new research found.
“Diclofenac emissions are similar to any of
Article source: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/11/drug-waste-clogs-rivers-around-the-world-scientists-say
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