Antibiotics in most rivers found above 'safe' levels

Antibiotics found in rivers at up to 300 times over ‘safe’ levels

Antibiotics found in some of the world's rivers exceed 'safe' levels, global study finds

An assessment of antibiotic pollution in rivers across the world shows that the concentration of the antibiotics in some rivers is much higher than what is considered safe.

Researchers found Bangladesh, Kenya, Ghana, Pakistan and Nigeria were home to the most contaminated rivers. A researcher involved in the study called the results "eye-opening and worrying".

Professor William Gaze, a microbial ecologist at the University of Exeter, says antibiotic-resistant bacteria in humans originated from bacteria in the environment.

The drugs end up in the world's rivers through human and animal waste, as well as from drug-making facilities and wastewater treatment plants.

The worst offender was a site in Bangladesh, where the antibiotic metronidazole - which is used to treat vaginal infections - exceeded more than 300 times the safe level.

Rivers worldwide are polluted with antibiotics that exceed environmental safety thresholds by up to 300 times, according to research unveiled at a conference on Monday.

According to the scientists involved in the pollution of the water effects for the animal world and leads to resistance to risky antibiotic.

The rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a global health emergency that could kill 10 million people by 2050, the United Nations said last month.

Overall, antibiotics concentration in the country's rivers was 170 times higher than the prescribed limit.

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For the study, the researchers looked for 14 commonly used antibiotics in rivers in 72 countries across six continents and found antibiotics at 65 per cent of the sites monitored.

Safe levels can range from 20,000 to 32,000 nanograms per liter (ng/l), depending on the antibiotic, according to new guidelines established by the AMR Industry Alliance, a coalition of biotech, diagnostics and pharmaceutical companies set up to provide sustainable solutions to curb antimicrobial resistance.

A large number of drugs found in the environment - analgesics, antibiotics, anti-platelet agents, hormones, psychiatric drugs, anti-histamines - have been detected in nature at levels risky for wildlife.

This story was first published on, "The world's rivers are contaminated with antibiotics, new study shows".

"Many scientists and policymakers now recognize the role of the natural environment in the antimicrobial resistance problem". "We know very little about the scale of the problem globally".

"Solving the problem is going to be a mammoth challenge and will need investment in infrastructure for waste and wastewater treatment, tighter regulation and the cleaning up of already contaminated sites".

"Our study helps fill this knowledge gap with data from countries that had never been monitored before".

The study is scheduled to be presented at the two-day annual meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) in Helsinki, Finland, starting on May 27.

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