Researchers in Australia have detected 69 medications in small aquatic creatures in rivers. The residues identified included antidepressants, painkillers, antibiotics, and blood pressure-lowering agents. The highest levels were found in insects near wastewater plants, but low levels were also detected in those from more pristine areas. There is a food-chain effect with river-borne pharmaceuticals most likely to accumulate in flies and beetles while they are underwater larvae, then transfer to spiders that feed on them after they emerge as adults, and, of course, on upwards into their predators like fish, platypuses, birds, bats and frogs. Eventually, no doubt, into humans.
How to stop this? Well, firstly to reduce the use of drugs to what is strictly necessary. Secondly, by increasing aerobic digestion in waste water treatment works. Carefully controlled composting can crack these molecules. There are now new digestion processes developing. On the scale required, only farmers can do this.
Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd. 11 November ‘18