Tags: Health Topics | rivers | antibiotics | disease | pollution | africa | nile

Tests Find World's Rivers Polluted With Antibiotics

A Sudanese boys poses for a photograph while swimming in the Nile River
A Sudanese boys poses for a photograph while swimming in the Nile River, in Khartoum, Sudan. (Mosa'ab Elshamy/AP)

By    |   Monday, 27 May 2019 11:21 AM

The world's rivers have dangerously high levels of antibiotics, meaning that in some parts of the environment, there are levels high enough to affect resistance to deadly diseases.

The University of York gathered samples from around the world, including from some of its most iconic rivers such as the Thames and the Tigris, reports The Guardian, and determined the highest concentration of antibiotics was shown in Africa. The study was presented during a conference in Helsinki Monday.

"Our study helps fill this key knowledge gap with data being generated for countries that had never been monitored before," said Dr. John WIlkinson, from York's Department of Environment and Geography, which coordinated the work said in a statement.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria is considered a global health emergency, the United Nations said last month and the problem could kill 10 million people by 2050.

The tests revealed the following concentrations:

  • Africa, 35%.
  • Asia, 23%.
  • South America, 18%.
  • North America, 15%.
  • Europe, 8%.
  • Oceania, 6%.

"It's quite scary and depressing," said Alistair Boxall, an environmental scientist at the University of York. "We could have large parts of the environment that have got antibiotics at levels high enough to affect resistance."

The drugs end up in the world's rivers through human and animal waste, as well as from drug-making facilities and wastewater treatment plants.

Many of the drugs found were those used to treat serious infections. For example, in the Thames, Ciprofloxacin, used to treat skin and urinary tract infections, was found at more than three times the levels considered safe.

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The world's rivers have dangerously high levels of antibiotics, meaning that in some parts of the environment, there are levels high enough to affect resistance to deadly diseases.
rivers, antibiotics, disease, pollution, africa, nile
257
2019-21-27
Monday, 27 May 2019 11:21 AM
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