A new study looked at the water from 258 rivers around the globe, testing for the presence of 61 pharmaceuticals. The results were worrisome.
The study was the work of the Global Monitoring of Pharmaceuticals Project at the University of York, England. The Project has expanded over the last two years.
This study is the first investigation on a global scale of medical contamination in the environment.
It found that pharmaceutical pollution exists in rivers on every continent. Perhaps not surprisingly it found that the most polluted waters are in the parts of the world where the issue of pollution has been the least studied: sub-saharan Africa, South America, and parts of southern Asia.
In Pill Form:
The study revealed that a quarter of the sites contained contaminants (such as sulfamethoxazole, propranolol, ciprofloxacin and loratadine) at potentially lethal concentrations. Breaking this down by the economic status of the countries where the test water was taken, they found that lower middle income nations had the most toxic rivers.
The sources of pharmaceutical pollution included rubbish dumping along river banks, inadequate wastewater and pharmaceutical manufacturing infrastructure, and the dumping of the contents of residual septic tanks into rivers.