Powerful antibiotics and other drugs may be in our drinking water, scientists fear. Rivers, lakes and wells throughout North America, Europe and East Asia are already contaminated by a range of pharmaceutical drugs, and scientists fear they could easily make their way into the public water supply.
Antibiotics, antimicrobials ands antifungals have all been found in waterways throughout the three continents - usually because they have either been flushed down toilets or used on agricultural land.
Researchers from the University of Montreal in Canada found three classes of antibiotic - macrolides, quinolones and sulfonamides - and trimethoprim, for urinary infections, in water they analysed.
These drugs can build antibiotic resistance in bacteria - so creating the 'superbugs' - affect life in the waterways, and also make their way into the public water supply, says lead researcher Sebastien Sauve.
(Source: Environmental Health Perspectives, 2009; doi: 10.1289/ehp.11776).