Drug Traces Found In Water Pose Problem For Wildlife

Posted on Tuesday, October 18 at 09:41 by Ed Deak
In Georgia and Mississippi, scientists recently discovered that the antidepressant Prozac, in water downstream from sewage plants, can kill tadpoles, stunt the growth of others and befuddle the survivors so they swim in circles and can't flee from predators. In Pennsylvania, a biologist reported that small amounts of Prozac may cause mussels and clams to discharge their sperm and eggs prematurely, dooming their offspring. And in Texas, a researcher found that the sexual organs of male minnows shrank when they were lowered into a river tainted with birth control drugs. "We might just be seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the cumulative impact of all this," said Dr. Thomas Burke, associate chairman of health policy at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Pollution concerns He said concerns about pharmaceutical pollution are likely to become more urgent as a growing human population consumes a multiplying number of medications. "This is an important area we have to study more," Burke said. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is working with other federal offices to investigate whether the government should require better sewage filtration systems to remove drugs before water is discharged, according to the agency. Pharmaceuticals are not regulated as pollutants, and most sewage plants are not designed to break them all down. One stumbling block to adding better filtration systems is the cost, which could reach $100 million to install advanced technology on each large sewage treatment plant, said Shane Snyder, research manager at the Southern Nevada Water Authority. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/bal-te.md.pharmaceutical16oct16,0 ,5116758.story?coll=bal-newsaol-headlines [Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on October 19, 2005]

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