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Pharmaceuticals sold in Sweden cause serious environmental harm in India
Date:2/5/2009

Many of the substances in our most common medicines are manufactured in India and China. Some of these factories release large quantities of antibiotics and other pharmaceutical substances to the environment. There is an obvious risk of these releases leading to resistant bacteria.

Research from the Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg, Sweden, shows that Sweden is a major consumer of pharmaceutical substances from factories that fail to adequately treat their wastewater. As it is difficult to find out where the pharmaceutical substances are manufactured and how much is released, it is impossible at present for consumers to avoid contributing to this environmental harm.

These findings are presented in the medical journal Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology and are highlighted today in a news article in Nature. Last week the research of the Swedish group became headline news in New York Times, Washington Post and Times of India.

"We used to think that pharmaceuticals that ended up in the environment mostly came from the use of the medicines and that the substances were dispersed through wastewater. We now know that certain factories that manufacture substances release very large quantities of active substances," says associate professor Joakim Larsson of the Sahlgrenska Academy in Gothenburg,Sweden, one of the research scientists behind the studies.

The water from the pharmaceutical industries is highly toxic

Joakim Larsson has visited the industrial zone near Hyderabad, India, an important centre for the manufacturing of pharmaceutical substances. Here his research team has taken samples of the water discharged from a treatment plant that treats wastewater from around 90 pharmaceutical factories before it is released.

"We have previously shown that the "treated" water contained exceptionally high levels of various pharmaceutical substances, including several
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Contact: Joakim Larsson
joakim.larsson@fysiologi.gu.se
46-070-962-1068
University of Gothenburg
Source:Eurekalert

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