Environmental exposure to active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) can have negative effects on the health of ecosystems and humans. While numerous studies have monitored APIs in rivers, these employ different analytical methods, measure different APIs, and have ignored many of the countries of the world. This makes it difficult to quantify the scale of the problem from a global perspective. Furthermore, comparison of the existing data, generated for different studies/regions/continents, is challenging due to the vast differences between the analytical methodologies employed. Here, we present a global-scale study of API pollution in 258 of the world's rivers, representing the environmental influence of 471.4 million people across 137 geographic regions. Samples were obtained from 1,052 locations in 104 countries (representing all continents and 36 countries not previously studied for API contamination) and analyzed for 61 APIs. Highest cumulative API concentrations were observed in sub-Saharan Africa, south Asia, and South America. The most contaminated sites were in low- to middle-income countries and were associated with areas with poor wastewater and waste management infrastructure and pharmaceutical manufacturing. The most frequently detected APIs were carbamazepine, metformin, and caffeine (a compound also arising from lifestyle use), which were detected at over half of the sites monitored. Concentrations of at least one API at 25.7% of the sampling sites were greater than concentrations considered safe for aquatic organisms, or which are of concern in terms of selection for antimicrobial resistance. Therefore, pharmaceutical pollution poses a global threat to environmental and human health, as well as to delivery of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - 22 Feb 2022|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. We thank Amanda Wong and Katherine Wong for their help in collecting water samples in Calgary, Canada; Prof. M. M. Pathma-lal for help in the collection of samples in Sri Lanka; and the Centre of Excellence in Mass Spectrometry at the University of York, where the mass spectrometer that performed this work is located. The project was partly supported by the Medical Research Council (Project: MR/R014876/1), the British Council Institutional Links Science, Technology and Research Exchange Across Mena (STREAM) program (Project Number 277947262), the Instituto Antartico Chileno (INACH) Regular Funding Projects (Grant INACH_RT_12_17), Agencia Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo (ANID) Programa de Investigación anillo Instituto Antartico Chileno (Programa de Investigación Anillo INACH) Grant ACT192057, and ANID Fondo Nacional de Desarrollo Cientifico, Tecnolo-gico y de Innovacion Tecnologica (FONDECYT) Grant 1210946. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the US Government. The copyright of these data is held by the University of York (York, United Kingdom).
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- Aquatic contamination
- Global pollution