Medicines that pollute? Traces of pharmaceutical drugs found in fresh water, posing an environmental risk

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Washington DC, February 24: New research now reveals that over the past two decades, concentrations of pharmaceuticals have increased in freshwater sources around the world. According to research conducted by environmental experts at Radboud University, levels of the antibiotic ciprofloxacin have reached the point of potentially causing damaging ecological effects.

The research is the first to examine the risks of two particular drugs in global freshwater sources and is published in Environmental Research Letters. Speaking of this, lead author Rik Oldenkamp said: “Getting an accurate picture of the environmental risks of pharmaceuticals around the world depends on the availability of data, which is limited,” adding: “It is true that there is models, such as the ePiE model, which can give detailed predictions of pharmaceutical concentrations in the environment, but these are often only applicable to places where we already have a lot of information, such as rivers in Europe . Indians are losing 1.5 years of their lives due to air pollution, according to a new study.

The new model developed by the researchers, which builds on an existing model with a lower resolution, makes it possible to provide global forecasts for individual ecoregions. For the two pharmaceuticals studied in the study – carbamazepine, an antiepileptic drug, and ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic – the environmental risks were found to be 10 to 20 times higher in 2015 than in 1995.

The increase in human use of ciprofloxacin has been shown to have a particularly high impact on a global scale. “The levels of this antibiotic can be harmful to bacteria in the water, and these bacteria, in turn, play an important role in various nutrient cycles,” Oldenkamp said. , adding: “Antibiotics can also negatively impact the effectiveness of bacterial colonies used in wastewater treatment.” From global warming to pollution: what will happen to this beautiful blue planet?

“Our model predicts a relatively high environmental risk for ecoregions in densely populated and dry areas like the Middle East, yet these are precisely the areas where there is little data on pharmaceutical use and surface water concentrations. “Oldenkamp said. The researchers predicted human pharmaceutical consumption in these areas using regression models based on consumption in other countries, as well as socio-economic and demographic information, and linked this to information related to other factors. such as water sources and the number of people with access to wastewater. processing.

According to Oldenkamp, ​​the model shows a particular need for new data in these types of areas. “The model is really a starting point for creating an overview of the environmental risks posed by pharmaceuticals around the world,” Oldenkamp said.


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