…In 2009, for example, researchers1,2 reported very high levels of pharmaceutical ingredients in treated effluent coming from a plant that processes wastewater from factories near Hyderabad, India. The following year, a similar discovery was made at two wastewater-treatment plants in New York, both of which received discharges from drug-production plants3.
Now, researchers have provided the first evidence of similar problems in Europe4, and have linked it to sex disruption in wild fish populations found in the Dore River in France.
“People thought this could not happen in a country that has high environmental standards and good manufacturing practices,” says Patrick Phillips, head of the National Water-Quality Assessment Program at the US Geological Survey in Troy, New York, and lead author of the US study. “The evidence from the United States and now from France shows that this is not the case.”
The discovery has prompted calls for more effective oversight of the industry. The United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and France do not have regulations limiting the concentrations of pharmaceuticals released into the aquatic environment in either municipal wastewater or in effluent from manufacturing facilities. “People think drug release is regulated, but its not,” says Joakim Larsson, a pharmacologist at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, and an author of one of the Indian studies2….