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Pharmaceutical Factories as a Source of Drugs in Water

 

Low levels of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) turning up in natural waterways and drinking water supplies are coming under increasing scrutiny for their potential health effects on people and wildlife. Human waste has been identified as the main source of these pharmaceuticals, along with the common practice of flushing unused medications down the toilet. Now, a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) highlights a largely overlooked contributor: pharmaceutical manufacturers.1 Effluent from two U.S. wastewater treatment plants that received discharge from pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities had levels of seven APIs that were 101,000 times higher than effluent from plants that received no such waste.

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