Antibiotics, antimicrobials and antifungals in waterways

June 9, 2009

Antibiotics, antimicrobials and antifungals are seeping into the waterways of North America, Europe and East Asia, according to an investigation published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP). Authored by Université de Montréal and Environment Canada researchers, the review found that consumption of anti-infectives for human and agriculture use contributes to their release into the environment and even into drinking water.

"Anti-infectives are constantly discharged, at trace levels, in natural waters near urban centres and agricultural areas," says senior author Sébastien Sauvé, a Université de Montréal professor of environmental analytical chemistry. "Their potential contribution to the spread of anti-infective resistance in bacteria and other effects on aquatic biota is a cause for concern."

The research team compiled published data for three classes of (macrolides, quinolones and sulfonamides) and the compound trimethoprim present in the urban wastewaters of East Asia, Europe and North America. The scientists found higher concentrations of these pharmaceuticals in raw wastewater compared to treated wastewater.

"Rivers, creeks, lakes, estuar┬Čies, basins, sea waters and wells have been reported to be contaminated by several of these compounds," says Dr. Sauvé, adding that a previous review by the scientific team also demonstrated that pharmaceuticals could promote microbial resistance when released in the environment.

This latest review warns the increased farm usage of anti-infectives may augment their levels in future agricultural wastewater. The investigation also predicts that vital urban water conservation strategies could produce harmful side-effects -- specifically less wastewater resulting in lower dilution and higher concentrations of anti-infectives in wastewater.

"Anti-infectives might have a greater impact in developing countries, where sewage infrastructure can be lacking, over-the-counter drugs more widely available and industrial emissions less strict," adds first author Pedro A. Segura, a Université de Montréal PhD student.

Source: University of Montreal (news : web)

Explore further: Researchers identify new protein that triggers breast cancer

Related Stories

Scientists discover gene responsible for brain's aging

January 16, 2009

Will scientists one day be able to slow the aging of the brain and prevent diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's? Absolutely - once the genetic coding associated with neuronal degeneration has been unraveled.

Growing years cut short for toddlers from poor families

January 21, 2009

Continuous poverty during toddler years can curb the height of children by the time they reach kindergarten, even in industrialized countries, according to new research from the Université de Montréal. Regardless ...

Teens cool off from sports with each succeeding winter

March 31, 2009

Although winter's grasp has subsided to spring, its effects could have a long term impact on the exercise patterns of teenagers. According to a five-year study published in the Annals of Epidemiology, while teens are generally ...

22-year study finds adults aren't active enough

May 12, 2009

A new study has sounded the alarm that the majority of Canadian adults are inactive over their lifespan and don't exercise enough during their leisure time. Published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and ...

Recommended for you

Image: Sentinel-1A captures Azore islands

October 9, 2015

This Sentinel-1A radar image was processed to depict water in blue and land in earthen colours. It features some of the Azore islands about 1600 km west of Lisbon, including the turtle-shaped Faial, the dagger-like Sao Jorge ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.