ground- water, geo- statistics, environmental- engineering, earth- science

Pharmaceuticals in Groundwater

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This is not a new story, but it is a main article in the online edition of “Der Spiegel” today: The fact that pharmaceuticals, such as cough sirups, antibiotics, or pain killers are not totally taken up by the human body. The part that is not being taken up, usually ends at a wastewater treatment plant, and more often than usually can’t get treated there. So all these medical substances get released into the environment.

The article talks about the research group around Andrew Singer at the University of Oxford. He is a mathematical modeler, and wanted to know what would happen to “Tamiflu” – concentrations in british rivers. Tamiflu is supposed to treat people during an influence pandemic, which is when millions of Britons would use it.

Singer’s group showed that under such epidemic conditions, significant concentrations of Tamiflu would exist in rivers. There, lots (unimaginable many) of other life-forms would get into contact with Tamiflu, and the consequences can’t be imagined. As one consequence however it seems pretty certain that a few organisms that are believed to play a key role in transmitting influenza (the waterfowl) might develop a resistance against Tamiflu, and hence magnify the epidemic problem.

Written by Claus

February 11th, 2007 at 3:18 pm

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