Crops Irrigated with Recycled Wastewater Pick Up 'Reassuringly' Low Amounts of Drugs

Started by Mesi M. on
16 Sep 2013 at 02:35

Given that recent research has revealed that drugs, pharmaceuticals, beauty products, and caffeine pass through our bodies and into wastewater in high enough levels that it can be used to track how well people are following their prescriptions, a new study, presented at the American Chemical Society national meeting, provides some good news: Food crops irrigated with processed and recycled sewage water pick up only "reassuringly" low levels of these substances. 

Irrigating with recycled wastewater is common practice in some parts of the world, notably arid places like Israel, which currently reuses 80 percent of wastewater for irrigation—though in the United States single digit percentages of wastewater are reused for agriculture.

Even after passing through sewage treatment plants, water which is otherwise considered safe enough to drink or be discharged into waterways without risk of pollution still can contain remnants of drugs, anti-bacterial soaps, and on and on. 

The study is the first to examine crops under field conditions and for some twenty different pharmaceutical and personal care products, and found that although plants do take up these from the recycled wastewater, the levels, "were quite low and most likely do not pose any health concern."

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