Tackling Pharmaceutical Waste in European Rivers

Wastewater Industry Insight | Arvia Technology
May 2018

The problem of dangerous pharmaceutical waste in European rivers was a topic at the forefront of the recent European Parliament discussion, Joining the Dots -Tackling Pharmaceuticals in the environment and AMR in Europe. Industry leaders must act now to play their part warns Mike Lodge, CEO at water and wastewater treatment specialist Arvia Technology.

To reduce pharmaceutical waste in European rivers EU policymakers must take a holistic approach. Worryingly, recent samples taken across Europe show a deteriorating quality of water in rivers, with only around 10 percent of the water from over 100 European rivers in 27 European countries deemed clean.

As discussed recently by the European Parliament there is now an obvious link between pharmaceutical residues in water and Anti-Microbial resistance (AMR) in Europe. EPHA Secretary General Nina Renshaw stated that AMR has the potential to be a bigger killer than cancer as last resort antibiotics could become ineffective.

Policymakers are taking steps in the right direction with the introduction of regulations such as REACH which calls for the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals. Take-back and disposal schemes, green pharmaceuticals, eco-labels on packaging, compulsory prescription of pharmaceuticals with high environmental impact and awareness-raising are all practical ways to reduce the problem.

Analysis and testing has improved considerably in recent years and this is driving change. There are now studies which clearly show the effects of pharmaceutical waste on wildlife and the environment.

The good news is that technology is advancing in this area. There are now state of the art solutions for the reduction of hard-to-treat micropollutants from water and wastewater streams. Advances in technology mean it is now possible to tackle part per million to part per billion ranges of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs), pharmaceutical residues, endocrine disruptors, personal care products, manufacturing chemicals and pesticides.

It is reassuring to see the issue raised at European Parliament level, putting the issue firmly on the political agenda.

Originally published at ENDS Europe

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