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Too many active pharmaceutical ingredients are found in the environment
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Too many active pharmaceutical ingredients are found in the environment

December marks the end of the international project “Clear Waters from Pharmaceuticals-2”.  Scientists from almost all Baltic Sea countries participated in the project, which sought to identify the most harmful active pharmaceutical ingredients and their metabolites. During the study, concentrations of  more than 70 active pharmaceutical  ingredients were determined. A video educational was also created as part of this project to raise awareness.

Without the use of substances that are specifically designed for living cells, medicine cannot be fully effective. This happens in the body. We are treated. But, the moment medicines are released to the environment, they begin to act on organisms that do not require them. One species can be affected, but the effects on the ecosystem are unpredictable.

Clear Waters from Pharmaceuticals (CWPharma), a project to eliminate toxins from pharmaceuticals, has been implemented in fifteen European countries since autumn 2017. Nine of these organizations have also implemented Clear Waters from Pharmaceuticals 2 project, which was funded by the EU Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme.

These projects allowed scientists from each listed country to conduct research in order to determine which pharmaceutically active substances or their metabolites are the most significant pollutants in the Baltic Sea ecosystem.

The study revealed that more than 70 pharmaceutically-active substances were present in the samples. Researchers found that pharmaceutically active substances were present in high concentrations in Latvian cardiovascular drugs, painkillers, and antibiotics.

Samples were collected in the Vantaanjoki river basin district (Finland), the Pärnu river (Estonia), the Lielupe and Daugava rivers (Latvia), the Vistula river (Poland), the Vornova-Pina river (Germany) and the Motala river (Sweden).

Samples from surface water, Baltic Sea coastline water, sediment, and soil fertilized in sewage sludge were all tested. Emissions from municipal water treatment plants (untreated or treated wastewater), hospitals and pharmaceutical waste, landfills, fish- and livestock farms were also analysed.

The study involved 226 samples that resulted in the determination of 13 365 AFV levels.

Two main routes are used to release pharmaceutically active substances in Latvia. Firstly, through wastewater treatment facilities, which are not equipped to handle these substances. Secondly, when medicines are thrown away incorrectly, such as in household waste. It would be much more likely that unneeded or unusable medicines would be returned to pharmacies.

The educational video was created to educate the public and raise awareness about active pharmaceutical ingredients. This video was made in the framework Clear Waters from Pharmaceuticals 2 Project (CWPharma2).

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