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Sante Publique. 2010 May-Jun;22(3):325-42.

[Do pharmaceutical waste and drug residue pose a risk to public health?].

[Article in French]

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l'Université de Lille.


Recently, awareness has developed of the environmental consequences of drug waste and disposal. These residues are identified as coming from either diffuse sources, the most significant of which is via the discharge of these residues in urine and feces, and thus the sewage system and water contains these drug remnants and their metabolites, or from point sources, sometimes with very high levels of concentration in waste from chemical and pharmaceutical industries, health care settings, but also from intensive livestock farming and aquaculture. Depending on their physical chemistry properties, these substances are more or less naturally biodegradable and easily treated in sewage purification plants. The effectiveness of these treatment processes is highly random and unpredictable, but is overall around 60%, nevertheless with variations of 2-99% according to the molecules. The silt from these treatment plants, sometimes very rich in lipophilic substances is on occasion reused for agricultural application as fertilizer, paving the way for a possible contamination of crops. Furthermore, the use of veterinary drugs in animals can lead to soil contamination either directly or through manure and slurry. The contamination can equally reach and affect surface water, groundwater and sometimes the water intended for human consumption. The National academy of Pharmacy has established some general recommendations on the proper use of drugs, environmental monitoring and surveillance, risk assessment for humans and the environment, prevention and the need for prevention. Several categories of drugs are more worrying: cancer treatments, antibiotics as well as transfers of anti-bio-resistance, and hormonal derivatives which has been previously demonstrated to contribute, along with other molecules, to detrimental effects on endocrines.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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