Testing the Water
Environmental campaigning organization Changing Markets recently published a report uncovering widespread antibiotic resistance in wastewater from pharmaceutical plants in India (1). We spoke to the group about why – and how – the industry should address this important environmental issue.
Why focus on antibiotic pollution?
Pollution from antibiotic manufacture is known to be a factor in the global spread of drug resistance, alongside excessive consumption of antibiotics in human medicine and their profligate use in livestock rearing. This is still a relatively unexplored issue, despite a substantial and growing body of scientific evidence highlighting the negative environmental and human health impact of antibiotic residues.
In 2007, a team of Swedish scientists analyzed pharmaceuticals in the effluent from the Patancheru Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP), a plant serving about 90 pharmaceutical manufacturers on the outskirts of Hyderabad. The pharmaceutical concentrations in some of the water samples were higher than those found in the blood of patients taking medicine. The concentration of ciprofloxacin, a fluoroquinolone antibiotic, was approximately one million times greater than the levels found in treated municipal sewage effluent (2).
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