A quarter of the world’s rivers contain toxic levels of drugs
A quarter of the world’s rivers contain potentially toxic levels of pharmaceuticals, a new study finds.
The new study examined 258 rivers around the world, including the Thames in London and the Amazon in Brazil, to measure the presence of 61 drugs.
In Britain, the Clyde is the most polluted by pharmaceuticals, the researchers found, according to the Times.
Researchers have found that poor countries are more likely to have dangerously drug-polluted water.
Researchers have studied rivers in more than half of the countries in the world – rivers in 36 of those countries have never been tested for pharmaceuticals.
The study is part of the Global Pharmaceuticals Surveillance Project run by the University of York and is the first truly global survey of medical contamination in the environment.
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Researchers have found that pharmaceutical pollution is now contaminating water on every continent – and some of the most polluted regions are sub-Saharan Africa, South America and parts of South Asia.
Project co-lead Dr John Wilkinson of the Department of Environment and Geography said: “We have known for over two decades now that pharmaceuticals enter the aquatic environment where they can affect the biology of living organisms.
“But one of the biggest problems we’ve faced in solving this problem is that we haven’t been very representative when monitoring these contaminants, with almost all of the data concentrated in a few select areas in America. Northern, Western Europe and China.
“Thanks to our project, our knowledge of the global distribution of pharmaceuticals in the aquatic environment has improved significantly. This study presents data from more countries around the world than the entire scientific community does. knew before: 36 new countries to be precise. where only 75 had already been studied before.”
“With 127 collaborators in 86 institutions around the world, the Global Pharmaceuticals Monitoring Project is a great example of how the global scientific community can come together to tackle large-scale environmental issues.
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The researchers say that the activities most associated with high levels of pharmaceutical pollution are dumping garbage along riverbanks, insufficient sewage treatment and pharmaceutical manufacturing infrastructure, and dumping the contents of residual septic tanks in rivers.
Researchers have found strong correlations between a country’s socio-economic status and higher pollution from pharmaceuticals in its rivers (lower-middle-income countries being the most polluted)
The study included notable rivers such as the Amazon, Mississippi, Thames and Mekong.
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Water samples were taken from sites ranging from a Yanomami village in Venezuela, where modern drugs are not used, to some of the most populated cities on the planet, such as Delhi, London, New York, Lagos , Las Vegas and Guangzhou.
Areas of political instability such as Baghdad, the Palestinian West Bank and Yaoundé in Cameroon were also included.
The climates where the samples were obtained ranged from the high altitude alpine tundra of Colorado and the polar regions of Antarctica to the deserts of Tunisia.
The researchers suggest that their approach could also be extended in the future to include other environmental media such as sediments, soils and biota, and could enable the development of global scale pollution datasets. .