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):
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 system created by a Dutch inventor called System 101, whose first trial run, conducted a year ago, had failed, has started collecting plastic waste on the Pacific again.
Many studies worldwide have shown that the active compounds of medications are released into the environment with wastewater and can easily be reintroduced into the human food chain from there. Filtering these residues out is an increasingly acute concern, but, thankfully, the world of science has already responded to the problem.
Researchers from Canada and Africa have found a massive amount of plastic bottles, originating form Asia, mainly from China, on Inaccessible Island, located in the South Atlantic Ocean. The bottles were probably discarded into the water and then washed up on the island from cargo ships passing the region.
After being introduced into human and animal organisms, some pharmaceutical compounds are secreted via urine unchanged, and then, through wastewater, those compounds may reach surface waters that serve as drinking water supplies, representing a risk for both aquatic ecosystems and for the purity of drinking water.
We’ve known for a long time that plastic food packaging, wearing car tyres and clothing made of synthetic fibres are all sources of microplastic pollution. However, a new study has identified a new source of pollution in our kitchens, or more precisely in our teacups.
Despite the continuous development of wastewater treatment technologies, the complete removal of synthetic pharmaceuticals using the three-step method currently in use is yet to be achieved. A number of researchers are working to improve the efficiency of the removal of these molecules from the present value of 10 to 30 percent.
As part of a campaign launched by the European Union, which culminated on 21 September, International Coastal CleanUp Day, marine waste washed up on beaches is collected in more than 80 countries on all inhabited continents, the European Commission has announced.
This astonishing video is about the creation of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is twice the size of the state of Texas.
On 11 March 2011, Japan suffered a magnitude 9 earthquake, which also impacted the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. Since then, more than a million tonnes of radioactive water has been collected from the damaged cooling system of the plant, but the tanks will be filled to capacity by 2022.
The set of problems around pharmaceutical residues is extremely complex: the active compounds that are released can reach not only drinking water but also our food. Luckily, scientists have started investigating the problem, and the development of technologies able to offer a solution is also under way.