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Preventing water crises
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Preventing water crises

Pharmaceutical residues in Hungarian waters

In Hungary, too, the active ingredients of various medications are discharged continuously into the environment with wastewater, so they can now be detected in surface and underground waters as well as in soils.

Although individual pharmaceutical substances are only present in our environment in very low concentrations, collectively the many different compounds may cause a significant problem for the safety of aquatic ecosystems and our drinking water resources.

The Joint Danube Survey research projects of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) had already highlighted all that (in 2007 and 2013):

in the course of the tests conducted along the Danube it was established that – similarly to other parts of the world – the presence of pharmaceutical residues in surface waters, including the Danube, represents a problem in Hungary, too.

The project was the world’s largest river research effort in 2013, the chemical analysis was performed by the world’s leading laboratories. A number of components were tested, but the compounds that were detected most frequently were pharmaceutical derivatives. In addition, residues of artificial sweeteners and many other chemicals were also found.

Almost all the surface water samples contained various antiepileptic drugs, for instance carbamazepine, which is generally used for the treatment of epileptic seizures and as an antidepressant. But many other scientific papers also provide information about pharmaceutical pollution in Hungary’s surface waters, and they draw attention to the fact that although wastewater treatment technologies are developing continuously, pharmaceutical residues still appear in treated wastewater, and as a result, in our natural waters, too.

The researchers of the Joint Danube Survey have shown that there are pharmaceutical residues in the water along the Hungarian section of the Danube, too Photo: Shutterstock
Further information: MTA CSFK Geographical Institute

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