High Levels of Drugs Found in Water Supplies World-Wide
[Posted on: Thursday, July 30, 2015]
We consume a lot of drugs and they all end up polluting the environment. Human waste, urine and feces, are the primary sources of drugs found in wastewater and sewage from where it ends up into water bodies such as streams, rivers, lakes, seawater, and eventually, drinking water. FDA has several rules requiring companies to control environmental exposure of drugs from the manufacturing sites, and for the last 20 years has required inclusion of environmental assessment in market approval applications. However, there are no rules to monitor for drugs ending up in environment post consumption, and rightfully so. Drug companies cannot be held accountable for managing the water supplies, that’s the job of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), however, even the EPA does not regulate drugs in drinking water.
In recent review of several environmental exposure studies in The Scientist, it was reported that drugs, and their metabolites, contaminate almost all sources of water and high levels of drugs have been shown to cause many negative effects on the wild-life, fishes, and plants that are inadvertently exposed to these drugs. There seems to be no simple solution; the current methods used to decontaminate drinking water or processing sewage do not remove most of the drugs, and the methods that can remove such contaminants, such as ozonation and nanofiltration, are very expensive to be implemented widely. The sheer number and variety of drugs we consume makes it practically impossible to control all environmental exposure. This is a problem with no simple solutions. FDA and EPA are currently not planning to add any more rules for the drug industry in terms of environmental exposure.
Expert Opinion: Mukesh Kumar
VP, RA, Amarex Clinical Research