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Anti-biotic - Shanmugam IAS academy in coimbatore


What’s in news?

According to a new global study, the world’s rivers are widely contaminated with dangerous levels of antibiotics.

Key data’s:

  • Researchers from the University of York in the UK done this global study, the first of its kind analysed samples from rivers in 72 countries and found that antibiotics were present in 65% (two-thirds of waterways) of them. The anti-biotics were mixed, greater than 300 times of WHO’s recommendations.
  • Scientists fear antibiotics in rivers cause bacteria to develop resistance meaning they can no longer be used in medicines for humans.
  • The UN estimates that the rise in antibiotic resistance could kill 10 million people by 2050
  • The data was collected from 711 sites, and from some of the world’s best-known rivers, including the Chao Phraya, Danube, Mekong, Seine, Thames, Tiber and Tigris.
  • From the study, they found dangerous levels of contamination were most frequently found in Asia and Africa.
  • Sites in Bangladesh, Kenya, Ghana, Pakistan and Nigeria exceeding safe levels by the greatest degree.
  • The worst case was found at a site in Bangladesh, where concentrations of the drug Metronidazole which is used to treat bacterial infections, including skin and mouth infections exceeded safe levels by up to 300 times.
  • According to new guidelines established by the AMR Industry AllianceSafe levels can range from 20,000 to 32,000 nanograms per litre (ng/l), depending on the antibiotic.
  • The team looked for 14 commonly used antibiotics in their samples.
  • Trimethoprim – a drug primarily used to treat urinary tract infections at 43% of the river sites tested, making it the most prevalent antibiotic found.
  • Ciprofloxacin – The bacteria-fighting anti-biotic, the most frequently exceeded safe levels, surpassing the safety threshold in 51 places.
  • High-risk sites were typically next to wastewater treatment plants, waste or sewage dumps and in some areas of political turmoil.
  • The Thameswas contaminated with five antibiotics, including levels of ciprofloxacin, used to treat skin and urinary tract infections that were three times what is considered safe. 
  • Sites in Europe, North America and South America also had high levels of contamination showing that antibiotic contamination was a “global problem”.


  • Drugs get into rivers via human and animal waste, as well as leaks from wastewater treatment and drug manufacturing sources.

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