This press release is available in French.
Montreal, January 26, 2009 A study conducted by Universit de Montral researchers on downstream and upstream water from the Montreal wastewater treatment plant has revealed the presence of chemotherapy products and certain hypertension and cholesterol medications.
Bezafibrate (cholesterol reducing medication), enalapril (hypertension medication), methotrexate and cyclophosphamide (two products used in the treatment of certain cancers) have all been detected in wastewater entering the Montreal treatment station. However, only bezafibrate and enalapril have been detected in the treated water leaving the wastewater treatment plant and in the surface water of the St. Lawrence River, where the treated wastewater is released.
This study was conducted due to the sharp rise in drug consumption over the past few years. In 1999, according to a study by IMS Health Global Services, world drug consumption amounted to $342 billion. In 2006 that figure doubled to $643 billion. A significant proportion of the drugs consumed are excreted by the human body in urine and end up in municipal wastewater. Chemotherapy products, such as methotrexate, are excreted by the body practically unchanged (80 to 90 percent in their initial form).
Chemotherapy for fish?
The pharmaceutical compounds studied were chosen because of the large quantities prescribed by physicians. "Methotrexate and cyclophosphamide are two products very often used to treat cancer and are more likely to be found in water," says Sbastien Sauv, a professor of environmental chemistry at the Universit de Montral. "Even though they treat cancer, these two products are highly toxic. This is why we wanted to know the extent to which the fauna and flora of the St. Lawrence are exposed to them."
Method and quantities
|Contact: Julie Gazaille|
University of Montreal