Pharmaceutical Residues in Freshwater

Hazards and Policy Responses

In series:OECD Studies on Waterview more titles

Available from September 30, 2019

Pharmaceuticals are essential for human and animal health but they are increasingly recognised as a contaminant to environmental and human health when their residues enter freshwater systems: psychiatric drugs alter fish behaviour; endocrine disrupting pharmaceuticals cause reproduction toxicity in fish and increased risk of breast or prostate cancer in humans; and the overuse of antibiotics is linked to antimicrobial resistance – a global health crisis. The situation is set to worsen with growing use of pharmaceuticals projected with economic growth, ageing populations, advances in healthcare, and increased livestock and fish production. This report helps to close the science-policy loop. It provides policy guidance to cost-effectively reduce human and veterinary pharmaceuticals in freshwater, and their associated risks to human and environmental health. Voluntary participation alone will not deliver; economic and regulatory drivers from central government are needed. Ultimately, a life-cycle approach combining a policy mix of source-directed, use-orientated and end-of-pipe measures, involving several policy sectors, is required to effectively deal with pharmaceuticals across their life cycle.

POLICY Highlights (Preliminary version)

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