Pharmaceutical pollution poses a grave danger to the world's rivers and Bangladesh is no exception, according to the latest comprehensive study by the University of York.
In Barishal, Bangladesh, researchers reported high concentration levels of the antibiotic metronidazole, which was over 300 times above the safe target. Scientists drew the conclusion, "Pharmaceutical pollution poses a global threat to the environmental and human health," based on the research article – "Pharmaceutical Pollution of the World's Rivers" – published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, reports The Guardian.
Thus far, this study is the biggest of its nature and represents the impact of river pollution on 470 million people, states The Guardian.
Scientists have conducted the study across all continents and measured the concentration of 61 active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) of over 1,000 sites along 258 rivers in 104 countries.
Scientists ruled out the possible cause to be leaks from pharmaceutical manufacturing. This environmental exposure of high concentration levels of antimicrobial APIs derived from antibiotics has the potential to render a major crisis of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the country and across the globe.
The study observed the highest API concentrations across countries and ruled out the four main sources of pharmaceutical pollution.
- Pharmaceutical manufacturing causing pollution in sites including Barishal, Bangladesh and Lagos, Nigeria
- Discharge of untreated sewage in places including Tunis, Tunisia and Nablus, Palestine
- Arid climates around locations such as Madrid, Spain
- Garbage dumps and sewage exhauster truck emissions in places including Nairobi, Kenya and Accra, Ghana
The study has found recurrent drugs with chemical compounds which are hard to breakdown such as caffeine, carbamazepine – an anti-epileptic drug, and metformin – a diabetes drug. These drugs were spotted in at least half of the sites. One in five sites had dangerous levels of antibiotics posing massive threat to wildlife.
Out of all the countries that scientists collected samples from, Iceland and a Venezuelan village were found with zero pharmaceutical pollution for it was reported that the indigenous people do not use modern medicines.