Pharmaceutical Residues in Freshwater

Hazards and Policy Responses

image of Pharmaceutical Residues in Freshwater

This report calls for a better understanding of the effects of pharmaceutical residues in the environment, greater international collaboration and accountability distribution, and policy actions to prevent and remedy emerging concerns. Laboratory and field tests show traces of oral contraceptives causing the feminisation of fish and amphibians, and residues of psychiatric drugs altering fish behaviour. Antimicrobial resistance, linked to the overuse of antibiotics, has rapidly escalated into a global health crisis.

Unless adequate measures are taken to manage the risks, pharmaceutical residues will increasingly be released into the environment as ageing populations, advances in healthcare, and intensification of meat and fish production spur the demand for pharmaceuticals worldwide. The report outlines a collective, life-cycle approach to managing pharmaceuticals in the environment. A policy mix of source-directed, use-orientated and end-of-pipe measures, involving several policy sectors, can help to improve health and protect the environment.



Opportunities to build a policy-relevant knowledge base

Improving knowledge on pharmaceuticals in water, and their effects and risks on human health and the environment, is an important foundation on which pharmaceutical authorisation, environmental risk assessments and water quality policies can be built. This chapter inventories and assesses the strengths and weaknesses of various innovative monitoring and modelling approaches to assess the impacts and risks of pharmaceuticals in water. The chapter takes stock of country and international initiatives to improve the knowledge base and highlights the need for data sharing and institutional coordination.


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