Latest research show antibiotic contamination in world’s rivers

Latest research show antibiotic contamination in world’s rivers
Photo: World Image, BS

A recent global study shows that there is widespread antibiotic contamination in rivers all over the world.

University of York, UK researchers found the presence of antibiotics in 65% of the samples taken from rivers of 72 countries.

In Asia and Africa, the rivers had the most dangerous levels of contamination according to the research team. Samples from Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and Pakistan showed alarming degrees of antibiotic contamination.

Concentrations of the antibiotic Metronidazole, used to treat a bacterial infection, was highest in Bangladesh. The research team claims that the rivers of Bangladesh were contaminated up to 300 times beyond safe levels.

Out of the 14 most commonly used antibiotics, Trimethoprim was found in 43% of all the samples. The results show that it is the most prevalent antibiotic in world rivers. Trimethoprim is used as a treatment for urinary tract infections (UTI).

According to researchers, the antibiotic found to most commonly exceed safe levels is Ciprofloxacin as it went beyond the safety threshold in 51 places.

The research team took the samples from 711 sites. These include world-famous rivers such as Danube, Mekong, Chao Phraya, Seine, Tigris, Thames, and Tiber.

High-risk sites that had dangerous levels of antibiotic contamination were mostly located near wastewater treatment plants or sewage dumps according to the study.

Rivers in developing countries most frequently surpassed safety levels. But, the findings do not exclude Europe or North and South America where contamination was also detected. According to researchers, the issue is a “global problem”.

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