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Almost HALF of the world’s rivers contain dangerous levels of prescription drugs

When you think of pollution in rivers, you probably think of visions of plastic bottles and packaging.

But a new study has warned that nearly half of the world’s rivers are also teeming with prescription drugs.

York University researchers found unsafe amounts of drugs, including antidepressants, antihistamines and pain relievers in 43.5% of the 1,052 sites tested in 104 countries.

“Our findings show that a very large proportion of rivers around the world are under threat from pharmaceutical pollution,” said Alejandra Bouzas-Monroy, a co-author of the study.

‘So we should do a lot more to reduce the emissions of these substances into the environment.’

A new study has warned that nearly half of the world's rivers are teeming with over-the-counter and prescription drugs.  Pictured: a river in Nairobi

A new study has warned that nearly half of the world’s rivers are teeming with over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Pictured: a river in Nairobi

York University researchers have found unsafe levels of drugs including antidepressants, antihistamines and pain relievers in 43.5% of 1,052 sites tested in 104 countries

York University researchers have found unsafe levels of drugs including antidepressants, antihistamines and pain relievers in 43.5% of 1,052 sites tested in 104 countries

Which countries have the world level?

The sites with the highest levels were in Africa — with a river in Nairobi having the highest levels of all sites, the researchers said.

The sites with the highest mixture headquarters were located in Africa and were mainly associated with three sampling campaigns (Lagos in Nigeria, Nairobi in Kenya and Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo) where waste handling, sewage discharge points, dumping of raw sewage by suction trucks and pharmaceutical production activities were observed. the researchers wrote.

In Asia, the highest levels were in Lahore, in South America in La Paz and in Europe in Tübingen.

More than 100,000 tons of pharmaceutical products are consumed worldwide every year, according to the European Environment Agency (EEB)

During production, use and disposal, pharmaceutical drugs are released into rivers, where they can affect organisms, including fish and aquatic plants.

In the study, the team sought to understand the magnitude of this pharmaceutical contamination around the world.

“This is the first truly global assessment of the effects of single drugs and drug mixtures in river systems,” said Ms Bouzas-Monroy.

The team sampled water at 1,052 locations in 104 countries, including the UK, Australia, France and the US.

The results showed that 43.5 percent of the sites had “relevant” concentrations of 23 active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs).

This included substances from antidepressants, antimicrobials, antihistamines, benzodiazepines and pain relievers.

The sites with the highest levels were in Africa — with a river in Nairobi having the highest levels of all sites, the researchers said.

The sites with the highest mixture headquarters were located in Africa and were mainly associated with three sampling campaigns (Lagos in Nigeria, Nairobi in Kenya and Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo) where waste handling, sewage discharge points, dumping of raw sewage by suction trucks and pharmaceutical production activities were observed. the researchers wrote.

In Asia, the highest levels were in Lahore, in South America in La Paz and in Europe in Tübingen.

Worryingly, previous studies have shown how exposure to high levels of APIs can affect organisms, including fish and algae.

‘For example, it has been shown that concentrations of antibiotics in surface water are higher than PNEC’ [predicted no‐effect concentrations] values ​​in the European and Chinese surface’, the researchers explain.

‘The anticonvulsant carbamazepine occurs in concentrations that give rise to acute and chronic effects in fish, daphnia and algae in Africa, China and Israel.

In Asia the highest levels were in Lahore, in South America they were in La Paz and in Europe (map shown) they were in Tübingen, Germany

In Asia the highest levels were in Lahore, in South America they were in La Paz and in Europe (map shown) they were in Tübingen, Germany

“In Poland, Israel, China and Italy, stimulants have been identified as a group of concern related to their effects on water.”

The researchers hope their findings will encourage countries to take better measures to tackle pharmaceutical pollution in rivers around the world.

“Overall, the results show that API pollution is a global problem that is likely to negatively impact the health of the world’s rivers,” the team concluded.

“Emergency work is needed to address the problem and bring concentrations to acceptable levels.”

Worryingly, studies have shown that the presence of antibiotics in the environment contributes to the development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), one of the major emerging threats to human health today.

‘AMR burden in terms of lives lost, morbidity, health care costs and productivity loss is much greater than currently available statistics suggest – 25,000 deaths in 2007 – and projections estimate a 15-fold increase in morbidity in Europe due to AMR by 390,000 by 2050 deaths,” the EEB said.

FISH IN RURAL UK WATERWAYS CONTAIN COCAINE AND KETAMINE: RESEARCH 2019

Fish in UK waterways contain cocaine, ketamine, methamphetamine, pesticides and pharmaceutical drugs, a 2019 study found.

Scientists from Kings College working with the University of Suffolk collected water samples from 15 sites in five rivers around Suffolk.

The authors said “surprisingly” that they found cocaine in every single sample — while the party drug ketamine and other drugs were also found in freshwater shrimp.

dr. Leon Barron of King’s College London said: ‘Such a regular presence of illegal drugs in wildlife was surprising.

“We might expect these in urban areas like London, but not in smaller and more rural catchments.

“The presence of pesticides that have long been banned in the UK also poses a particular challenge, as their sources remain unclear.”

Different substances were detected in all 56 – and the drug of abuse, cocaine, was most commonly found along with lidocaine.

Lidocaine is used legally as a topical anesthetic in dentistry, but is also often illegally used to ‘cut’ cocaine, as it causes a numbness in the gums, similar to cocaine, making users think they are getting cocaine, which has a similar effect .

Lead author, Dr. Thomas Miller of King’s College London said: ‘While concentrations were low, we were able to identify compounds that may be of environmental and critical importance, which may pose a risk to wildlife.’

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