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Scientists Detect Multiple Pharmaceutical Residues In The World’s Rivers

by Derrick Smith
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According to a report by the University of York in the UK, the world’s rivers have been contaminated with residues of paracetamol, nicotine, caffeine, Epilepsy, and Diabetes drugs, posing a threat to the world’s health.


Researchers find that drug residues are polluting rivers. (Photo via Pixabay.com)

London, UK (Merxwire) – In your cognition, what should be in the river? Most people will answer fish, shrimp, and aquatic plants. The answer from researchers at the University of York in the UK may be frightening, as they found residues of drugs such as caffeine, nicotine, and the painkiller paracetamol in the river. The report has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The researchers monitored 258 rivers in 104 countries on all continents, with a total of 1,052 sampling points, for more than a quarter of active pharmaceutical ingredients, considered unsafe for aquatic life and harmful to the environment and humans threat to health. This is the most extensive study of river pollution in the world.

These drug residues come from painkillers, epilepsy drugs, hypoglycemic drugs that people often use, as well as caffeine and nicotine produced by daily consumables.

How do these common pharmaceutical compounds affect rivers? Much remains to be explored, but residual human contraceptive ingredients have been identified as affecting fish development and reproduction. On the other hand, as the antibiotic content in rivers increases, it may also affect the drug resistance of fish, which in turn affects the food chain.

More careful use of drugs is one way to reduce pollution. (Photo via Pixabay.com)

Pakistan, Bolivia, and Ethiopia had the most polluted rivers in the study. The rivers in Iceland, Norway, and the Amazon rainforest are best. The most polluted sites are mainly located in low- and middle-income countries and areas of the pharmaceutical industry with poorly managed wastewater.

Dr. John Wilkinson, who led the research, noted that what is now known is that even modern efficient wastewater treatment plants cannot fully degrade these compounds before they enter a river or lake. Under normal circumstances, we take these chemicals, they have some desired effect on the body, and then they leave the body.

Worryingly, at all the monitored sites in this study, antibiotic concentrations had already exceeded those at which bacteria could develop drug resistance.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a threat to humans when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites change over time and no longer respond to drugs. This makes the infection more difficult to treat while increasing the risk of disease transmission and death.

In many countries, cheap antibiotics are available without a prescription, and people may be taking antibiotics more than necessary. When a new drug-resistant bacteria emerges in one part of the planet, it can quickly pose a risk to everyone. Therefore, more careful use of drugs is one of the ways to reduce pollution.

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