Thursday, August 04, 2011

Drug factories flush painkillers down the drain, contaminating streams

A study conducted by researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has exposed drug factories as major sources of pharmaceutical pollution, revealing drug concentrations in the wastewater downstream of these factories more than a thousand times higher than those found in other wastewater.

"The concentrations coming out of effluent are much higher than we would ever have thought," said lead author Patrick Phillips, whose study was published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

"If people are interested in keeping drugs out of the environment, this may be a source we haven't thought about before."

In recent years, pharmaceutical contamination of water supplies -- at first presumed to come primarily from human urine and feces -- has become an issue of growing concern around the world. Because the world's water systems are so interconnected, more than 100 different drugs have been detected across North America, Europe and Asia, even in wells and remote regions. Based on its own research and information from water providers in 77 metropolitan areas and 52 small communities, the Associated Press has estimated that at least 46 million people across the United States are regularly exposed to tap water contaminated by pharmaceuticals. Read more...

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