/Drug residues in the environment: what are the health risks?

Drug residues in the environment: what are the health risks?

VIDEO – Drug residues inevitably end up in our environment. For the first time, an international congress held in Paris is synthesizing the scientific data available to better identify health risks. The explanations of Yves Lévi, professor of public health-environment at the Faculty of Pharmacy of the University of Paris-Sud.

  • Where do these drug residues come from?

Yves Lévi:They are naturally evacuated by humans and animals treated with drugs. There are also unused drugs that people can dump directly, discharges from urban wastewater treatment plants, but also discharges from pharmaceutical industries wastewater treatment plants. And so this general dispersion ends up landing in our waterways. ”

  • Are drug residues not filtered by wastewater treatment plants?

Yves Lévi: “Wastewater treatment plants were never built to eliminate all these traces of micro-pollutants. Especially since these drugs join the mass of all the other pollutants that we find today. But if the risk is significant, it may be necessary to switch to additional treatments. Like what has been done in Switzerland, for example. ”

  • Is there a proven risk for human health?

Yves Lévi: “The congress which was organized by the Academy of Pharmacy at the request of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of the Environment aims precisely to take stock at the global level on all the data that exist to assess the risks for man and the environment.

“The risks for humans come from the presence of certain traces of drug residues found in some tap water.”

  • Can we act to limit this contamination?

Yves Lévi: “Patients can return their unused medication to the pharmacy. Pharmacies have the obligation to take them back and entrust them to the Cyclamed association which will destroy them.

“Prescribers must also be aware of this problem and can request information on each molecule in order to choose, between two molecules of the same efficiency, the one that has the least impact on the environment. But the priority is for the drug to protect public health, so measures should not be taken that would go against public health. ”