Drug-Testing Urban Waterways

Aging infrastructure increasingly ushers pharmaceutical pollution into urban waterways. Its impact on aquatic ecosystems is largely still a mystery—but new research sheds some light.

In a new study of Baltimore area streams, published in Ecosphere, 6 pharmaceuticals showed up—and the more urban the stream, the higher the concentration. Researchers also found that microbial communities developed resistance to drugs common to urban streams, including antibiotics.

The findings draw no conclusions for human health, but even non-pathogenic antibiotic-resistant bacteria could impact ecosystems—but "it's still an open question what the effects of pharmaceuticals are," said lead author Emma Rosi.


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