Nearly half of world’s rivers poisoned by OTC, prescription drugs: Study

Nearly half of the world’s rivers are poisoned by over-the-counter and prescription drugs, according to new research.

They range from antibiotics, antidepressants and pain relievers to oral contraceptives, hay fever pills and tranquilizers.

The River Clyde in Scotland is the most medicinally polluted in the United Kingdom, with the epilepsy drug carbamazepine most common in about 70 percent of British rivers.

New research found that nearly half of the world’s rivers are poisoned by over-the-counter and prescription drugs. In this photo, oxycodone pain pills prescribed for a patient with chronic pain are displayed on March 23, 2016 in Norwich, Connecticut.
John Moore / Getty Images

Of the 54 sampling sites in the UK, drugs were detected in 50, with only four clean in remote Snowdonia in Wales.

These levels are potentially toxic to humans. Fish and other wildlife are also at risk, threatening the ecosystem. For example, drugs that target hormones have induced sexual changes in marine animals.

study found that the amount of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) was “concerned” in more than 43 percent of the sites, of which 23 exceeded the sites considered “safe”.

It was based on 1,052 locations in 104 countries around the world, the largest analysis of its kind.

Related author Alejandra Bouzas-Monroy, a Ph.D. student from the University of York, said: “This is the first truly global assessment of the effects of single pharmaceuticals and mixtures of pharmaceuticals in river systems.

“Our findings suggest that a very high proportion of rivers worldwide are at risk from drug pollution.

“That’s why we must do a lot to reduce emissions of these substances into the environment.”

They are released into the environment during production, use and disposal. They are most likely to turn into surface waters such as streams, rivers, lakes, reservoirs and wetlands.

The findings suggest that contamination is a global problem damming rivers from the Thames to the Amazon.

Bouzas-Monroy said: “More than 1,900 APIs are used to treat and prevent disease in humans. It is imperative that these substances be excreted into the natural environment.

“There is a growing concern for these APIs that may negatively affect ecosystem health because they are designed to interact with receptors and biochemical pathways in humans.

“Many are conserved in non-target organisms and have the potential to cause toxic side effects.”

River Clyde In Scotland
The River Clyde in Scotland (pictured) is the most polluted in the United Kingdom, according to new research, with the epilepsy drug carbamazepine found in nearly 70 percent of British rivers.
Alistair McIntyre / Pixabay

Lake studies have shown that the “pill” and other synthetic estrogens cause the disruption of the hormone.

The popular pain reliever diclofenac resulted in a significant decline in vulture populations in the Indian subcontinent, with potential impacts on human health.

Antidepressants have been shown to affect fish behavior, which can upset the food chain by making them more prone to predators.

It is feared that the presence of antimicrobial compounds in the environment is contributing to the selection of drug-resistant bacteria, leading to the emergence of deadly superbugs.

Bouzas-Monroy said: “The lack of global API monitoring data means we have no idea of ​​the scale of potential impacts for many regions of the world.

“Therefore, we used a unique data set on the concentrations of 61 high-use APIs in rivers from 104 countries to conduct the first truly global composite assessment of their potential ecotoxicological effects.”

The British team found that pharmaceutical pollution is contaminating water on every continent. In North America, sulfamethoxazole and caffeine showed the highest concentrations.

A total of 54 sampling locations in the UK were selected, with drugs being detected in all – in addition to four in remote Snowdonia in Wales. The Clyde River in Glasgow was the most polluted.

The most frequently found drug in British waterways was carbamazepine prescribed for epilepsy, which was found at 69 percent of the sites.

Also co-author John Wilkinson from the University of York said: “There are 19.5 million people living in the cities where we did surveillance work in the UK – London, Leeds, York, Glasgow, North Wales and Belfast. That’s about a third of the population.” “

World Polluted Rivers
The world (A) and European (B) map shows the average admixture risk quotient (HQ) for each sampling campaign in Wilkinson et al. (2022) Global Monitoring Project. Blue = HQ between 0 and 0.1, green = HQ between 0.1 and 1, orange = HQ between 1 and 5, yellow = HQ between 5 and 10, and red = HQ > 10. Campaigns in Iceland and Venezuela have led to some compound was not detected.

The availability of ecotoxicity data on APIs has increased significantly in recent years as the pharmaceutical industry has become more transparent.

Bouzas-Monroy said: “Twenty-three APIs had concentrations for at least one sample location above concentrations where effects on organisms could be expected.

“Ten of them were identified, including molecules used to treat depression, bacterial infections, epilepsy, and anxiety, as well as hormone therapy and stimulants, which were found at concentrations of ecotoxicological anxiety.”

The study suggests that characterizing 61 APIs may be just “the tip of the iceberg” as there are about 2,000 in circulation. The actual impact on aquatic systems is expected to be greater.

Bouzas-Monroy said: “The rivers monitored will contain not only APIs but other pollutants such as industrial chemicals, pesticides and metals.”

She continued: “We present for the first time a global assessment of the potential ecotoxicological effects of APIs on aquatic ecosystems.

“We demonstrate that globally approximately 43.5 percent of riverine locations have concentrations where ecotoxicological effects can be expected, with some locations expected to impact multiple trophic levels and endpoints.

“We urgently need to tackle the global problem of drug pollution if we are to meet the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 6, ‘Clean Water and Sanitation’.”

The most affected regions of the world are those that are least analysed: sub-Saharan Africa, parts of South America and southern Asia.

Less than a quarter of the wastewater is treated – and the technology is unable to filter most pharmaceuticals.

It is hoped that increased monitoring will lead to strategies that limit impacts.

A state-of-the-art scanner in York identified propranolol, a beta-blocker for heart disease, and loratadine, which is taken for allergies. Others included the common antibiotics for bacterial infections, sulfamethoxazole and ciprofloxacin.

They can disrupt the reproductive abilities of organisms, alter behavior or physiology – and even alter heart rate.

The amount of drugs leaching into waterways will increase by two-thirds before 2050, threatening freshwater ecosystems.

study Posted on Wednesday Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry,

This story was provided to Greeley Tribune zenger news,

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