研讨人员称，非洲和亚洲的河道抗生素污染堪忧，欧洲、南美洲和北美洲的状态也不容乐观，抗生素污染已成为一个环球性问题。Photo by Tyson Dudley on Unsplash
Rivers around the world are contaminated with dangerous levels of antibiotics, according to a major new study.
Concentrations of antibiotics in some waterways exceed safe levels by 300 times, a global team of scientists led by the University of York found.
The Thames was contaminated with five antibiotics, including levels of ciprofloxacin – used to treat skin and urinary tract infections – that were three times what is considered safe.
Researchers looked at 14 commonly used antibiotics in rivers flowing through 72 countries and found antibiotics were in two-thirds of samples.
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.
"A lot of the resistance genes we see in human pathogens originated from environmental bacteria,” Professor William Gaze, a microbial ecologist at the University of Exeter who was not involved in the study, told The Guardian.
pathogen['pæθədʒən]: n. 病原体；病菌
Drugs get into rivers via human and animal waste, as well as leaks from wastewater treatment and drug manufacturing sources.
In one site in Bangladesh, levels of metronidazole – which is used to treat mouth and skin infections – were 300 times greater than what is considered safe. The most common antibiotic was a urinary tract infection antibiotic called trimethoprim, which was present in 307 of 711 sites tested.
Scientists flew out 92 testing kits to partners across the world who took samples from local rivers. Researchers found Bangladesh, Kenya, Ghana, Pakistan and Nigeria were home to the most contaminated rivers. The team said that the safe limits were most frequently exceeded in Asia and Africa.
However, sites in Europe, North America and South America also had high levels of contamination showing that antibiotic contamination was a “global problem".
Professor Alistair Boxall, from the York Environmental Sustainability Institute, said: “The results are quite eye opening and worrying, demonstrating the widespread contamination of river systems around the world with antibiotic compounds.