Painkillers could harm life in our rivers

Painkillers could harm life in our rivers

Painkillers could harm life in our rivers

First published in In brief

RESEARCH led by the University of York shows dangerously high levels of ibruprofen in some rivers.

Academics have used new modelling techniques to estimate the levels of 12 pharmaceutical compounds in rivers across the UK, and while most are likely to cause only a low risk to aquatic life, ibuprofen might be having an adverse effect in nearly 50 per cent of the stretches of river studied.

The results of the study, which involved York’s Environment Department, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Swiss firm F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd and the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), are reported in the journal Environment International.

Professor Alistair Boxall, from the University of York’s Environment Department, said: “The results of our research show that we should be paying much closer attention to the environmental impacts of drugs such as ibuprofen which are freely available in supermarkets, chemists and elsewhere.”

He added: “While our study focused on pharmaceuticals, the approach we have developed could also be valuable in assessing the risks of other ‘down the drain’ chemicals and could help inform our understanding of the important dissipation processes for pharmaceuticals in the pathway from the patient to the environment.”

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