General Article Rising tide of drugs and medicines polluting EU waters

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Europe’s freshwaters are increasingly filled with pharmaceutical residues and other micro-pollutants, which are potentially harmful to human health and the environment, according to Friedrich Barth from the European Water Partnership (EWP), an industry-backed group.
‘One of the big problems in Europe will be micro-pollution – from pharmaceuticals, but also from pesticides and nutrients,’ said Barth, whose organisation brings together water treatment industries, governments, researchers and NGOs.
Pollution from invisible emerging chemical pollutants like nanoparticles were highlighted as a growing concern at this year’s World Water Week in Stockholm.
The chemicals can range from pesticides to flame retardants, steroids and hormones from birth-control pills.
Residues from pharmaceuticals in particular are set to become a hot topic in the future, Barth predicted, noting that there is currently no EU legislation that addresses the issue.
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