Drugs Under the Sea

Chemical byproducts from pharmaceuticals flow into the ocean, largely unregulated and unchecked by wastewater treatment plants.

Precious little is known about the drugs’ impact on marine life, from antibiotics found in soaps to everyday painkillers. University of São Paulo researchers set out to fill that gap.

Mimicking real-life pharmaceutical pollution in Brazil’s Santos Bay, they found that exposure to ibuprofen and triclosan caused malformed membranes and reproductive difficulties in shellfish. Government toxicity assessments can easily bypass these harmful, but non-lethal outcomes. But their impact is long-term and little-understood, and shouldn’t be ignored, warns lead author, Fabio Pusceddu.


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