Drug wastes threatening rivers worldwide: study

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Pharmaceutical wastes resulting from human and farm animal consumption are endangering the eco-system of rivers around the world, a new research says.

A large part of the world’s rivers and lakes is potentially threatened by the high concentration of drug wastes, Francesco Bregoli, a researcher at the Delft Institute for Water Education in the Netherlands, told the European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2018 on Tuesday, presenting the research findings.

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Bregoli’s team used diclofenac, an anti-inflammation drug, as a proxy to estimate the concentration of other drugs in global river systems.

Diclofenac has been branded as a threat to the environment by both the European Union (EU) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The team found out that over 10,000 kilometers of waters contain an amount of the drug exceeding the 100 nanograms per liter standard set by the EU.

The spread of diclofenac reflects the spread of thousands of other medications and personal care products in water bodies.

Based on data collected from some 1,400 locations worldwide, the researchers are predicting that the amount of pharmaceutical wastes could surge by some 67 percent by 2050.

Technology can’t solve the problem, Bregoli told AFP. “We need a substantial reduction in consumption.”


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