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According to new research, pharmaceutical pollutants have infiltrated rivers around the world, causing a major pollution problem in our waterways.

Source: TRT World/Youtube

An assessment published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry of over 1,000 locations spanning over 104 countries found that 43.5 percent of these waterways contain concerning levels of active pharmaceutical ingredients, or APIs.

During the production of pharmaceuticals, APIs can be released into waterways. Out of 61 APIs studied, concentrations of 23 exceeded safe levels. Researchers found components from commonly used drugs like antidepressants, beta-blockers, antimicrobials, painkillers, antihistamines, and more.

“This is the first truly global assessment of the impacts of single pharmaceuticals and mixtures of pharmaceuticals in riverine systems,” said co-author Alejandra Bouzas-Monroy, in a statement.

“Our findings show that a very high proportion of rivers around the world are at threat from pharmaceutical pollution. We should therefore be doing much more to reduce the emissions of these substances into the environment.”

They found that rivers in Africa had the highest percentage of sites where the API concentrations exceeded PNEC levels. North America was found to have the lowest. This is mostly due to the differences in wastewater management and treatment and the presence of pharmaceutical manufacturing, according to the authors.

A recent study conducted over three years by researchers at the Florida International University and Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT), found pharmaceutical contaminants in the blood and other tissues of bonefish in Biscayne Bay and the Florida Keys. Since the beginning of the study, they found an average of seven different pharmaceuticals per bonefish and a horrifying 17 pharmaceuticals in a single fish. The list of medications includes blood pressure medications, antidepressants, prostate treatment medications, antibiotics, and pain relievers. They also believe that many of the fisheries around the area have been exposed, which makes this an even bigger public health issue.

All kinds of aquatic life are affected by drugs in the water. This is just further proof of the pollution caused by humans and our poor waste habits. These cocktails of drugs are extremely toxic to underwater life, and we need to work towards better environmental regulation surrounding prescription drugs.

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