Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Pharmaceuticals sold in Sweden cause serious environmental harm in India

05.02.2009
Many of the substances in our most common medicines are manufactured in India and China.

Some of these factories release large quantities of antibiotics and other pharmaceutical substances to the environment. There is an obvious risk of these releases leading to resistant bacteria.

Research from the Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg, Sweden, shows that Sweden is a major consumer of pharmaceutical substances from factories that fail to adequately treat their wastewater. As it is difficult to find out where the pharmaceutical substances are manufactured and how much is released, it is impossible at present for consumers to avoid contributing to this environmental harm.

These findings are presented in the medical journal Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology and are highlighted today in a news article in Nature. Last week the research of the Swedish group became headline news in New York Times, Washington Post and Times of India.

"We used to think that pharmaceuticals that ended up in the environment mostly came from the use of the medicines and that the substances were dispersed through wastewater. We now know that certain factories that manufacture substances release very large quantities of active substances," says associate professor Joakim Larsson of the Sahlgrenska Academy in Gothenburg,Sweden, one of the research scientists behind the studies.

The water from the pharmaceutical industries is highly toxic
Joakim Larsson has visited the industrial zone near Hyderabad, India, an important centre for the manufacturing of pharmaceutical substances. Here his research team has taken samples of the water discharged from a treatment plant that treats wastewater from around 90 pharmaceutical factories before it is released.

"We have previously shown that the "treated" water contained exceptionally high levels of various pharmaceutical substances, including several broad-spectrum antibiotics. We estimated that the treatment plant released 45 kilograms of the antibiotic ciprofloxacin in one day, which is equivalent to five times the daily consumption of Sweden," says Larsson.

Such high levels of antibiotics in the water are a cause for alarm as there is an increased risk of spawning resistant bacteria, an issue of global concern. This can lead to those antibiotics that are invaluable today becoming ineffective sooner and not killing the bacteria of tomorrow. In addition, the environment is affected locally by the pollution; In another study by Larsson's team, published this week in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, they show that effluent diluted as much as 500 times strongly inhibit the growth of frog tadpoles.

The substances manufactured in Hyderabad are sold in Sweden

Where the active substance in a pharmaceutical product is manufactured is not public information, but the Swedish Medical Products Agency can grant exemptions for research purposes. The researchers analyzed data from the Medical Products Agency for all 242 products on the Swedish market that contained any of nine specific substances*. They found that 123 products contained substances from India and for 74 of the products, 31 per cent, the active substance was manufactured by one of the factories that send their wastewater to the treatment plant outside Hyderabad that was studied.

"The analysis shows quite clearly that a large number of medicinal products on the Swedish market is made by manufacturers that send their effluent to a treatment plant that does not treat their water satisfactorily," says Larsson.

We bear part of the responsibility

" Sweden, which is reputed to have some of the strictest environmental legislation in the world, like other western countries therefore bears a shared responsibility for the environmental problems the medicines we consume cause in India, for example," says Larsson.

But it is impossible for the individual consumer to know today whether a substance in a medicine he or she needs to take may have caused environmental problems in manufacturing.

"It is therefore important that the production chain is made transparent. If consumers are given an opportunity to choose pharmaceutical products they know to be produced in an environmentally friendly way, this could encourage manufacturers to become more environmentally friendly," says Larsson.

* The selected substances were: cetirizine, ciprofloxacin, citalopram, levofloxacin, losartan, metoprolol, norfloxacin, ofloxacin and ranitidine

The Sahlgrenska Academy is the faculty of health sciences at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. At the Sahlgrenska Academy education is provided and research is conducted in medicine, odontology and the caring sciences. Around 4 000 undergraduate and 1 000 postgraduate students are enrolled at the Academy. The Academy has 1 500 employees, of whom 850 are researchers and/or teachers.

Helena Aaberg | idw
Further information:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Waste in the water – New purification techniques for healthier aquatic ecosystems
24.07.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

nachricht Plenty of habitat for bears in Europe
24.07.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>