SOURCE: Yale e360

DATE: February 25, 2019

SNIP: Concentrations of pharmaceuticals in rivers and lakes have significantly increased across the globe over the past 20 years, according to a new study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. The risk of ecological damage from the residue of two pharmaceuticals, for example — carbamazepine, an anti-epileptic drug, and ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic — was 10 to 20 times higher in 2015 than in 1995, the study found.

Traces of medicines get passed into waterways through the excretion of active drugs in human waste, the disposal of unused medicine down drains, and run-off from livestock farms. The medicines can cause serious environmental harm: Chronic exposure to carbamazepine, for example, has been shown to alter feeding behavior and reduce egg viability in zebrafish, as well as reduce reproductive success in crustaceans. Antibiotics, including ciprofloxacin, can alter major nutrient cycles and decrease the effectiveness of bacteria-based wastewater management systems.