Antibiotic pollution is a new threat to humanity. A global study has revealed that all major rivers from the Thames to the Danube have a high level of antibiotics that is harmful to lives. The UN has cautioned that such a situation could lead to a global health emergency and kill millions of people by 2050. The drugs gain entry into the rivers and soil via human and animal waste. Other entry points are the leaks from wastewater treatment plants and drug manufacturing facilities.

The Guardian reports continuous exposure of bacteria to antibiotics makes them immune to the drugs.

As a result, the drugs become ineffective for human use. In the opinion of experts, the bacteria develop resistance to life-saving medicines, which affects humans. A paper on the subject was presented at a conference in Helsinki.

Contamination is a matter of concern

It seems the Thames is contaminated with antibiotics that are necessary for the treatment of serious infections. Examples are infections of the skin and urinary tract, In many cases, the contamination was at unsafe levels. Similar is the case with the Danube.

In Austria, the water contained different types of antibiotics. One of these is associated with treating infections in the respiratory tract. The extent of this contamination was at nearly four times the safe level. The Danube is the second-largest river in Europe and pollution levels were high. In fact, it was beyond safe limits for eight percent of the sites tested.

The Guardian goes on to add that the research covered 711 sites in 72 countries and identified antibiotics in 65% of them.

The level was alarming in some cases. Countries in Africa and Asia were the worst. Improper disposal of sewage and waste are possible reasons. In many cases, the waste goes straight into rivers without treatment. The research team has its work cut out. It will have to assess the impact on the Environment because of this pollution. They will also have to consider the effects on wildlife including fish, invertebrates, and algae. Incidentally, the drug levels in some Kenyan rivers were alarming. Fish could not survive in these waters.

Antibiotic pollution is a global issue

According to Independent UK, researchers sent across test kits to its partners across the world. The intention was to assess the magnitude of antibiotic pollution.

They took samples from local rivers and a study of these samples revealed that some countries in Asia and Africa had the most contaminated rivers. However, some rivers in Europe, North America, and South America also had similar problems. Obviously, it was a global phenomenon. In order to come out of this problem, it will be necessary to invest in infrastructure for waste and wastewater treatment. Along with that there must be strict regulation and cleaning up of already contaminated sites. This is another example of the scant regard we have for the environment. There have been reports of manganese contamination in underground drinking water in the US.