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Drugs & Toxins Roundup

June 26, 2009

The overuse of antibiotics is not only bad for us, it’s bad for the environment.


Medicating the environment. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Increasingly, antibiotics and related drugs are finding their way into rivers, lakes and streams. This according to a new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives. Wastewater treatment eliminates most of the drugs from sewage, but many parts of the world don’t have adequate sewage treatment. In addition, many of the drugs are administered to—and excreted by—cows and other farm animals, and their waste may not be treated at all. The report suggests that drug levels could be high enough in some places that they’re creating drug resistant bacteria in the wild.

In other environmental news, studies presented at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society raised concerns about a compound found in polycarbonate plastic called Bisphenol A. The chemical may increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and reproductive abnormalities, and levels of it are higher in US adults than was thought. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.