19 Aug '11, 1am
Do the pharmaceuticals that cure you cause harm? Down the food chain, it seems the answer is 'yes.'
Almost every place scientists have looked for the residue of pharmaceuticals in our waterways, they’ve found them: in wastewater, in drinking water, in high-elevation mountain streams, and in rivers at the bottoms of watersheds. The drugs come from people, who ingest and then excrete them; from the dumping of unused drugs down toilets; from leaking septic tanks; and from confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), which regularly treat their chickens, cows, and pigs with antibiotics and hormones that then leach into soil and water. Many of the drugs have been shown to harm aquatic life, causing premature spawning in shellfish and feminizing male fin fish. Over the last few years, studies in India and in New York state have revealed another source of drugs: waste water discharged from pharmaceutical manufacturing plants. A new study, reported in Nature News this week, shows...