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Natural Awakenings Twin Cities

Pharmaceutical Pollution is Out of Control

Factory pollution inside of pill capsule

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A new study by the University of York, “Pharmaceutical Pollution of the World’s Rivers,” in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has determined that pharmaceutical drugs polluting the world’s rivers pose “a global threat to environmental and human health.” Research leader Dr. John Wilkinson says, “What we know now is that even the most modern, efficient wastewater treatment plants aren’t completely capable of degrading these compounds before they end up in rivers or lakes.”

Biologically active compounds cause harm to wildlife such as the feminization of fish, and the presence of antibiotics in the environment increases the risk of drug resistance. The survey sampled 258 rivers in 104 countries and more than a quarter were regarded as unsafe for aquatic organisms. The most extensive global study to date found that the most polluted rivers were in Bolivia, Pakistan and Ethiopia. In the U.S., Dallas ranked in the top 20 percent. Those in the Amazon rainforest, Iceland and Norway had the least amounts of pharmaceutical pollution. Wilkinson advises, “The World Health Organization and UN and other organizations say antimicrobial resistance is the single greatest threat to humanity; it’s a next pandemic.”

Read the full June 2022 Magazine