A study conducted by researchers from the University of York in the UK has revealed that rivers around the world are contaminated with dangerous levels of antibiotics.
The study found that concentrations of antibiotics in some waterways exceed safe levels by 300 times.
The researchers found that Ghana, Bangladesh, Kenya, Nigeria and Pakistan were home to the most contaminated rivers.
The researchers, who looked at 14 commonly used antibiotics in rivers flowing through 72 countries, found that the safe limits were most frequently exceeded in Asia and Africa.
However, sites in Europe, North America and South America also had high levels of contamination, showing that antibiotic contamination was a “global problem".
Scientists fear antibiotics in rivers cause bacteria to develop resistance meaning they can no longer be used in medicines for humans. The UN estimates that the rise in antibiotic resistance could kill 10 million people by 2050.
“A lot of the resistance genes we see in human pathogens originated from environmental bacteria,” Professor William Gaze, a microbial ecologist at the University of Exeter who was not involved in the study, told The Guardian.
Drugs get into rivers via human and animal waste, as well as leaks from waste water treatment and drug manufacturing sources.
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