Will we be Fishless?: Part III

Discovered in the 1920s, antibiotics have saved tens of millions of lives from pneumonia, tuberculosis, meningitis and a host of deadly bacteria.

But, as with all things we do as humans, we get in the habit of overdoing everything. Overuse and misuse of drugs are thought to be the main causes of antimicrobial resistance. A large number of drugs found in the environment — analgesics, antibiotics, anti-platelet agents, hormones, psychiatric drugs, anti-histamines — have been detected in nature at levels dangerous for wildlife.

Endocrine disruptors, for examples, have notoriously induced sex changes in fish and amphibians.

A report presented in 2019 at a two-day annual meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry showed the World’s rivers were ‘loaded with antibiotics waste’. The extent of the pollution exceeds environmental safety thresholds by up to 300 times. Scientists had found one or more common antibiotics in two-thirds of 711 samples taken from rivers in 72 countries

In dozens of locations, concentrations of the drugs — used to fight off bacterial infection in people and livestock — exceeded safety levels set by the AMR Industry Alliance, a grouping of more than 100 biotech and pharmaceutical companies.

Ciprofloxacin, a frontline treatment for intestinal and urinary tract infections, surpassed the industry threshold at 51 of the sites tested.

At one location in Bangladesh, concentrations of another widely used antibiotic, metronidazole, were 300 times above the limit, the researchers said.

Ciprofloxacin, a frontline treatment for intestinal and urinary tract infections, surpassed the industry threshold at 51 of the sites tested.

At one location in Bangladesh, concentrations of another widely used antibiotic, metronidazole, were 300 times above the limit, the researchers said.

“The results are quite eye opening and worrying, demonstrating the widespread contamination of river systems around the world with antibiotic compounds,” Alistair Boxall, a scientist at the York environmental Sustainability Institute, said in a statement.

The countries with the highest levels of antibiotic river pollution were Bangladesh, Kenya, Ghana, Pakistan and Nigeria.

Within Europe, one site in Austria had the biggest concentrations anywhere on the continent.

Frozen water samples were collected from the Danube, Mekong, Seine, Thames, Tigris, Chao Phraya and dozens of other rivers.

“Until now, the majority of environmental monitoring work for antibiotics has been done in Europe, North America and China,” said co-author John Wilkinson, also from the University of York, where the samples were examined.

In North America,

“Sulfamethoxazole in the Environment

SMX is a sulfonamide antibiotic that is commonly used to treat a variety of bacterial infections. Previous studies have documented that SMX is a contaminant in both U. S. streams and groundwater, and that wastewater treatment plants and septic tanks are sources of antibiotics to the environment. Although SMX has been shown to degrade in streams, groundwater may be particularly vulnerable to the persistence of SMX. The natural attenuation of SMX in groundwater appears to be constrained due to the absence of photodegradation by sunlight when compared to natural attenuation of SMX in streams.”

(Credit: Vicki Blazer, USGS National Fish Health Research Laboratory. Public domain.).

The above photo of Microscopic appearance of normal and melanistic skin in fish from Chesapeake Bay watershed US, was taken:JANUARY 22, 2021

In 2015, the above lakh fish were released into Gandigudem Lake and in 2017 they died from toxins.

Notably, these fish were released into the lake a couple of years ago, as part of cultivation programme, and most of the fish were Rohu that weighed up to 10 kg. Telangana State Pollution Control Board has however advised all the fishermen to not to sell the dead fish in the market as it carries the toxic pollutants and is not fit for human consumption. The bloated fish bodies that got washed ashore are now rotting and gradually decomposing, and the stench of the same can be detected from about 500 meters. The residents living in and around the lake were in for a shock as they found the fish heaped around, raising unbearable stink.

As part of the investigation process, the Telangana State Pollution Control Board along with the Hyderabad Police have also collected the samples of water and fish from the channels connecting the industrial units with the 266-acre water body.”

Indians are subjected to Big Pharma pollution in the intensive pharmaceutical industrial areas which dispose of their waste into main arterial rivers such as the Ganges.

Researchers from Doon University, Dehra Dun, India, have reported the presence of 15 pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs) in the Ganges near two Hindu pilgrimage cities. These pollutants include caffeine, anti-inflammatory drugs, common antibiotics, beta blockers, antibacterials, and insect repellents………

PPCP concentrations near the cities varied, with the highest measured concentration being 1,104.84 nanograms per liter. Researchers found higher PPCP concentrations at the lower, more populated reaches of the river. The concentrations, especially of anti-inflammatory drugs and antibiotics, were also higher in winter, possibly because of decreased biodegradation associated with lower temperatures and inadequate sunlight, the report said. The study also showed that PPCPs in the region were associated with a higher risk of algal blooms and a moderate risk to the health of river fish…….

In 2020, Balakrishna’s team reported the presence of PPCPs in two tropical rivers in southwestern India, the Swarna and Netravati, which empty into the Arabian Sea……..

The new Ganges research also echoes recent studies tracing PPCPs on European glaciers, where researchers traced chemical pollutants to the use of perfumes in personal care products like soap. Perfumed soaps and ointments are also associated with PPCPs in Haridwar and Rishikesh, where mass bathing events are part of tourism and pilgrimage activities.

The above extracts originally appeared in American Geophysical Union 

Pharma companies in India are growing rapidly. India has an important contribution to the pharma sector. The country is one of the largest providers of generic drugs in the world.

As per the last recent report, about 80 per cent of the antiretroviral drugs used globally to fight AIDS are supplied by Indian pharma companies.

Hyderabad city of India holds a monopoly market in the Indian pharmaceutical industry. The city ranks first in the manufacturing of bulk drugs.

Pharma companies in Hyderabad produce the most amounts of therapeutic drugs. It accounts for 40 percent of the total Indian bulk drug.

Nearly, 50 percent of the bulk drug is exported to foreign countries which includes the UK and the US. Thus, the city is recognized as the ‘Bulk Drug Capital of India’.

We all owe much to the powerhouse of drug production in India. But the people of India are not being protected from harmful waste from the Pharma industry. There should be an inbuilt cost of the highest quality protections so no dangerous waste reaches the once beautiful waters of India, then spread their harm to the rest of the world via the seas and oceans. The evidence is dead or mutated fish.

About borderslynn

Retired, living in the Scottish Borders after living most of my life in cities in England. I can now indulge my interest in all aspects of living close to nature in a wild landscape. I live on what was once the Iapetus Ocean which took millions of years to travel from the Southern Hemisphere to here in the Northern Hemisphere. That set me thinking and questioning and seeking answers. In 1998 I co-wrote Millennium Countdown (US)/ A Business Guide to the Year 2000 (UK) see https://www.abebooks.co.uk/products/isbn/9780749427917
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