Risk of pharmaceuticals in water

AN AFP report last month quoted researchers saying that human medicines and household substances have been discovered in the blood of green turtles in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
This shows that even in a so-called developed country, people are unaware of the proper ways of disposing their leftover medicines. More often than not, they would dump them down the sink or flush them into the toilet.
Last year, the Health Ministry issued a public statement to remind Malaysians of the dangers of disposing unused or expired medicines down the sink or toilet, “Do not throw medicines into drains” (Star Online, Dec 31). “The sewage plants cannot treat chemical waste and this can lead to contamination of rivers and our water supply,” it said.
According to a World Health Organisation Report in 2011 titled “Pharmaceuticals in Drinking Water”, advanced and costly water treatment technology will not be able to completely remove all pharmaceuticals to concentrations less than the detection limits of the most sensitive analytical procedures at all times. Thus, even after the wastewater has been treated, the effluent discharged to the rivers/ beaches would still contain traces of pharmaceuticals.
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