[Pharmwaste] Pharmaceuticals found in fish across U.S.
dldebiasi at deq.virginia.gov
Wed Mar 25 12:03:46 EDT 2009
Pharmaceuticals found in fish across U.S.
Reside of allergy, cholesterol, other meds were in fish near 5 major
The Associated Press
updated 11:07 a.m. ET, Wed., March. 25, 2009
Fish caught near wastewater treatment plants serving five major U.S.
cities had residues of pharmaceuticals in them, including medicines used
to treat high cholesterol, allergies, high blood pressure, bipolar
disorder and depression, researchers reported Wednesday.
Findings from this first nationwide study of human drugs in fish tissue
have prompted the Environmental Protection Agency to significantly
expand similar ongoing research to more than 150 different locations.
"The average person hopefully will see this type of a study and see the
importance of us thinking about water that we use every day, where does
it come from, where does it go to? We need to understand this is a
limited resource and we need to learn a lot more about our impacts on
it," said study co-author Bryan Brooks, a Baylor University researcher
and professor who has published more than a dozen studies related to
pharmaceuticals in the environment.
A person would have to eat hundreds of thousands of fish dinners to get
even a single therapeutic dose, Brooks said. But researchers including
Brooks have found that even extremely diluted concentrations of
pharmaceutical residues can harm fish, frogs and other aquatic species
because of their constant exposure to contaminated water.
Brooks and his colleague Kevin Chambliss tested fish caught in rivers
where wastewater treatment plants release treated sewage in Chicago,
Dallas, Phoenix, Philadelphia and Orlando, Fla. For comparison, they
also tested fish from New Mexico's pristine Gila River Wilderness Area,
an area isolated from human sources of pollution.
Earlier research has confirmed that fish absorb medicines because the
rivers they live in are contaminated with traces of drugs that are not
removed in sewage treatment plants. Much of the contamination comes from
the unmetabolized residues of pharmaceuticals that people have taken and
excreted; unused medications dumped down the drain also contribute to
The researchers, whose work was funded by a $150,000 EPA grant, tested
fish for 24 different pharmaceuticals, as well as 12 chemicals found in
personal care products.
Traces of meds found at all sites tested
They found trace concentrations of seven drugs and two soap scent
chemicals in fish at all five of the urban river sites. The amounts
varied, but some of the fish had combinations of many of the compounds
in their livers.
The researchers didn't detect anything in the reference fish caught in
rural New Mexico.
In an ongoing investigation, The Associated Press has reported trace
concentrations of pharmaceuticals have been detected in drinking water
provided to at least 46 million Americans.
The EPA has called for additional studies about the impact on humans of
long-term consumption of minute amounts of medicines in their drinking
water, especially in unknown combinations. Limited laboratory studies
have shown that human cells failed to grow or took unusual shapes when
exposed to combinations of some pharmaceuticals found in drinking water.
"This pilot study is one important way that EPA is increasing its
scientific knowledge about the occurrence of pharmaceuticals and
personal care products in the environment," said EPA spokeswoman Suzanne
Rudzinski. She said the completed and expanded EPA sampling for
pharmaceuticals and other compounds in fish and surface water is part of
the agency's National Rivers and Stream Assessment.
(c) 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may
not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Deborah L. DeBiasi
Email: dldebiasi at deq.virginia.gov
WEB site address: www.deq.virginia.gov
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
Office of Water Permit Programs
Industrial Pretreatment/Toxics Management Program
PPCPs, EDCs, and Microconstituents
Mail: P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA 23218 (NEW!)
Location: 629 E. Main Street, Richmond, VA 23219
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