Don’t drink the water in Patancheru, India unless you feel like taking in more medicine in a glass than most take in their lifetime. The Iskavagu stream runs along about 90 Indian drug factories. Those factories dump their residues into the stream.
Looking at Indiamart’s pharmaceutical page one gets a quick grasp of the types of medicines that are flowing down the stream.
Researchers checking vials of the water have been shocked. Ciprofloxacin has been found in the water, enough to treat every person in the city of 90,000. That is the average amount of the drug in the water per day. That’s not all, the streams have a drug cocktail with 21 different active pharmaceutical ingredients at any one time.
Those chemicals are used to treat high blood pressure, heart disease, liver problems, depression, STDs and other problems.
The drug factories make much of the world’s medicine. The waters that flow pass those factories may seem like the perfect water to keep people extra healthy and that water flows straight to the poor in India. The only catch is the water is not healthy and in time could lead to a Superbug that will kill. With people drinking so much unneeded medicine in their water when they do become sick their bodies are likely to be resistant to standard medications.
The Associated Press reports:
“If you take a bath there, then you have all the antibiotics you need for treatment,” said chemist Klaus Kuemmerer at the University of Freiburg Medical Center in Germany, an expert on drug resistance in the environment who did not participate in the research. “If you just swallow a few gasps of water, you’re treated for everything. The question is for how long?”
Waste water down stream from these plants contain 150 times the highest levels of pharmaceuticals anywhere in North America.
Joakim Larsson, an environmental scientist at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, could not believe it was possible to have 100 pounds of ciprofloxacin flowing down the water each and every day. He even sent samples to another lab to test the results. The first round of tests were correct. Not only is the water used for villagers to drink but also their livestock.
Before the research it was believed that the drug factories were not in error in this situation. After all medicines come out of people when they use the bathroom. Hospitals and other medical centers flush millions of pills down the drain every year. That idea has changed though. It is now known that the refuge of drug factories do indeed change the chemical compound of the waters that they dump into.
That water then changes the environment around it. In the waters in India that are drug infested tadpoles are 40 percent smaller. Factor in the other contaminates of human sewage and you have a bacterial time bomb.
Taiwan News.com reports:
Not only is there the danger of antibiotic-resistant bacteria evolving; the entire biological food web could be affected,” said Stan Cox, senior scientist at the Land Institute, a nonprofit agriculture research center in Salina, Kan. Cox has studied and written about pharmaceutical pollution in Patancheru. “If Cipro is so widespread, it is likely that other drugs are out in the environment and getting into people’s bodies.”
The people that live in this poor area are being polluted and set up for Superbugs so that those in the West can have their medications at a cheaper price. That’s short term, in the long term the entire world is affected by these waters.
As ABC reports:
“People might say, ‘Oh sure, that’s just a dirty river in India,’ but we live on a small planet, everything is connected. The water in a river in India could be the rain coming down in your town in a few weeks,” Renee Sharp, senior analyst at the Washington-based Environmental Working Group said.
The drug factories started popping up in the 1980’s. The United States, India’s largest medication customer, spent $1.4 billion on the medications produced in the region in 2007.
At the Patancheru water treatment drug an outdated process filters the waste water of the 90 drug factories with raw sewage to break down the chemicals. That water once treated runs into the Isakavagu stream that feeds the Godawari River.
How high a cost are we asking for these drugs? In the end will it be worth it?